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First Dates’ Cindy on how Elan is helping her through her heartbreak

Earlier this month the nation fell for Cindy Thompson and Elan Cohen during an emotional First Dates episode when she shared her heartbreak over her mother’s brain tumour, while he bravely opened up about his mum’s depression.

Now Cindy, 27, from Yorkshire has exclusively revealed to Femail that the spark was not a one off and that she and Elan, 28, have been dating ever since filming in October 2017.

When they turned up in matching outfits #TeamKhaki trended on Twitter and six months on, they’re blissfully happy together, despite the shadow of Cindy’s mother Angela’s terminal diagnosis.

‘I will face whatever happens with my family and I feel blessed to have Elan at my side, ‘said Cindy.

‘When it was snowy, he helped to get my mum to hospital and texts her during the day if I’m in meetings at work.

‘When I don’t feel like speaking, he understands and just gives me a cuddle. He is so kind and compassionate, I don’t know what I’d do without him now.

‘When First Dates were choosing a match for me they had 350,000 names on their database – so it’s amazing they found my soul mate.’  

Angela, who was given the shock diagnosis in November 2016, celebrated her 60th birthday this weekend, 18 months after she was given just 12 months to live.

Earlier this month the nation fell for Cindy Thompson and Elan Cohen during an emotional First Dates episode

Cindy and Elan met in October 2017, and he has been supporting her ever since, with their episode airing in April 2018. 

Cindy is now sharing her story through The Brain Tumour Charity to raise awareness of brain tumours, which shockingly are the biggest cancer killer of children and under forties in the UK.

Meeting Elan was Cindy’s first date for over a year as she’d been helping to care for her mum.

‘Romance had been the last thing on my mind,’ she admitted. ‘I went to an audition for the show at a hotel with a friend. There were hundreds of people and I was shocked to get chosen. 

Heartbroken Cindy, 27, originally from Yorkshire, confided in Elan, 28, from Manchester, about her mother's brain tumour, while he bravely opened up about his mum's depression (Elan, Angela, Cindy L-R)

Heartbroken Cindy, 27, originally from Yorkshire, confided in Elan, 28, from Manchester, about her mother’s brain tumour, while he bravely opened up about his mum’s depression (Elan, Angela, Cindy L-R)

‘Romance had been the last thing on my mind,’ she admitted. ‘I went to an audition for the show at a hotel with a friend. There were hundreds of people and I was shocked to get chosen.

‘I’m not usually a nervous person and am happy doing work presentations for hundreds of people, but while I was waiting for Elan at the bar, my hand was shaking so much, I spilled my drink!’

‘I was also nervous because of the complex, emotional situation with my mum and needed someone who wouldn’t be fazed by that.

‘As soon as Elan walked in, I knew he was my type looks wise – he was dark, handsome and had lovely teeth.

‘I just hoped his personality matched up to it and cracked a joke about both being dressed in khaki to break the ice.’

Cindy and Elan met in October 2017, and he has been supporting her ever since, with their episode airing in April 2018

Cindy and Elan met in October 2017, and he has been supporting her ever since, with their episode airing in April 2018

Cindy wasn’t disappointed, adding: ‘When I told him about my mum’s brain tumour diagnosis, he got it as he’d been through a similar situation with his mum’s depression.

‘He knew how overnight your life can change – he was so understanding and compassionate. I instantly felt comfortable with him.’

Smitten Elan invited Cindy to Manchester the following weekend.

‘He told me he’d pick me up from Manchester Piccadilly train station but I had no idea what his plans were,’ said Cindy.

‘I was nervous that the chemistry wouldn’t be there any more – maybe it had been the excitement of being on TV and a few glasses of wine.

Angela, who celebrated her 60th birthday this weekend, was given the shock diagnosis in November 2016, 18 months after she was given just 12 months to live (seen after her most recent treatment this year)

Angela, who celebrated her 60th birthday this weekend, was given the shock diagnosis in November 2016, 18 months after she was given just 12 months to live (seen after her most recent treatment this year)

‘But as soon as I saw him I felt the same. We went to an American baseball range and wore huge helmets.

‘On our third date he came to Leeds – and that was it really.’

Elan met Cindy’s mum and dad Mike, 73, on Boxing Day, bringing her a huge bouquet of flowers and immediately winning her seal of approval.

Angela was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2016, just as she was about to start a new job  as an operations manager.

‘I’d landed a fantastic job in Zurich, Dad had retired and was looking forward to spending more time with Mum, and my brother, Miles, now 24, was about to graduate from university in sports journalism,’ Cindy recalled. 

‘We were all in a really good place full of excitement and hope for the future – then it changed.’

When they turned up in matching outfits #TeamKhaki trended on Twitter and their YouTube video has been viewed nearly half a million times *seen after their first date)

When they turned up in matching outfits #TeamKhaki trended on Twitter and their YouTube video has been viewed nearly half a million times *seen after their first date)

One evening, Cindy’s mum bumped into a lamppost on her way home from a gym class.

‘She didn’t think anything of it and just put it down to being tired from working long hours or overdoing it at the gym.

‘But later she was watching TV with my dad when she suddenly said ‘Your face looks pixelated.’

‘Then she said she could only see half of his face and that she was being blinded by a dazzling, bright white light. She had a massive seizure.’

Cindy’s terrified dad dialed 999 and followed the ambulance in his car as they took her mum to their local hospital in Skipton, north Yorkshire. 

The next morning, Cindy’s dad broke the news to her on the phone.

‘When I saw my dad had tried to Facetime me – I knew something was wrong as he never does that,’ she remembered.

‘I called him back and saw him and Miles crying. He told me that mum was critically ill but that they didn’t know what was wrong.’

Angela celebrating Cindy's father's 70th birthday, seen a year and a half before being diagnosed with a brain tumour

Angela celebrating Cindy’s father’s 70th birthday, seen a year and a half before being diagnosed with a brain tumour

Cindy immediately threw a bag together and got a train from her flat in London.

‘Mum was confused and had no idea why she was in hospital as she had no recollection of what had happened,’ said Cindy.

WHAT IS A GLIOBLASTOMA?

Glioblastomas are the most common cancerous brain tumours in adults.

They are fast growing and likely to spread. 

Glioblastomas’ cause is unknown but may be related to a sufferer’s genes if mutations result in cells growing uncontrollably, forming a tumour.

Treatment is usually surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, followed by a combination of radio- and chemotherapy (chemoradiation).

It can be difficult to remove all of the growth as glioblastomas have tendrils that extend to other regions of the brain. These are targeted via chemoradiation. 

Glioblastomas are often resistant to treatment as they are usually made up of different types of cells. Therefore, medication will kill off some cells and not others. 

The average survival time is between 12 and 18 months.

Only 20 per cent of patients live longer than a year and just three per cent survive over three years.

Source: The Brain Tumour Charity

Doctors told them they’d found a ‘significant growth’ on Angela’s brain sent the scans to neurosurgeons at St James’s University Hospital, Leeds.

‘We were told it was probably a brain tumour,’ said Cindy.

‘But we convinced ourselves it wouldn’t be cancer – that she’d have an operation to remove it and then she’d be fine.’

After a week in hospital Angela came home and missed Miles’ graduation from Chester University – so they watched it on Cindy’s laptop.

A few weeks later, Cindy’s parents went to St James’s and were given the devastating news that doctors were 99% certain her mum had a grade 4 glioblastoma, the most common aggressive brain tumour in adults.

At home, Angela held Cindy’s hand and broke the news of an incurable tumour to her. 

‘I burst into tears and asked her if she was going to die. She said ‘yes’ and that she’d been given 12 months to live.

‘It felt so surreal. Mum had worked hard all her life since she was 16 and she was fit and healthy. How could this be happening to her? To our family?

‘We were in pieces.’

After her devastating diagnosis, all Angela cared about was her family.

‘Mum wasn’t worried about herself – she just wanted to make sure we were all OK,’ said Cindy. ‘She’d always thought she’d be the one looking after Dad as he’s 13 years older.

Six months after meeting on dating show First Dates, Cindy and Elan are already talking about marriage

Six months after meeting on dating show First Dates, Cindy and Elan are already talking about marriage

‘But she’d get upset saying that she wouldn’t see her children getting married or be a gran one day.’

In November 2016, Angela had a three-hour operation to ‘debulk’ – remove – as much of the golf ball-sized tumour as possible.

‘Before she went down to theatre, we just sat there in silence,’ said Cindy.

‘We’d been warned that she might not make it through surgery or suffer a stroke and that was a 10 per cent chance she’d go blind.

‘But when she went down, we kissed her and said we’d be there when she woke up.’ 

Cindy with mum Angela, brother Miles, now 24, celebrating father Mike's birthday just over a year before Angela was diagnosed

Cindy with mum Angela, brother Miles, now 24, celebrating father Mike’s birthday just over a year before Angela was diagnosed

Due to being so fit and healthy, Angela recovered well from surgery and coped well with her six week course of combined chemo and radiotherapy.

‘We were frightened it would be the last Christmas we’d share with her,’ said Cindy. ‘No one said it but we were all thinking it.’

The family suffered another blow when Cindy’s dad suffered a stroke on Jan 2, 2017, when Cindy found him collapsed on the kitchen floor.

But Cindy and her family did their best to focus on the positive.

After six months of chemotherapy, Angela had regular clear scans until one in December showed a tiny dot.

‘Mum was doing really well and inspired us all with her spirit,’ said Cindy. We had holidays and days out – determined to make happy memories.’

Then a scan in February showed that Angela’s tumour had grown dramatically.

‘I felt sick as I looked at the scan pictures,’ said Cindy.

'As soon as I saw him I felt the same. We went to an American baseball range and wore huge helmets', Cindy said of her second date with Elan, when she visited him in Manchester

‘As soon as I saw him I felt the same. We went to an American baseball range and wore huge helmets’, Cindy said of her second date with Elan, when she visited him in Manchester

‘That tiny dot from a few months before was now a huge white area in the centre of Mum’s brain.’

This time the tumour is inoperable and Angela has recently finished three weeks of daily radiotherapy. They are now waiting for the latest scan results, but sadly, Angela’s condition is getting worse. 

‘Mum now finds it difficult to speak and her balance is poor, so she’s had a few falls.

‘Her confidence has been knocked as she used to be size 10 with gorgeous long, black hair and was so vibrant.

‘She’s lost her hair and steroids have made her put on weight. But she’s still our inspiration.’

Elan surprised Cindy on their second date, when she traveled up from London to see him

Elan surprised Cindy on their second date, when she traveled up from London to see him

Cindy when she was a baby with mum Angela and dad Mike

Cindy when she was a baby with mum Angela and dad Mike

‘I am backing The Brain Tumour Charity as this cruel disease can strike any one at any time,’ said Cindy.

‘I want to help raise awareness about the need for vital research for better treatments and – although it may be too late for my mum – ultimately a cure.”If I can help save just one family our heartache, it’ll be worth it.’

She and Elan have booked their first holiday to Israel in June, and they have discussed her moving into his Manchester flat in the future.

‘We have already talked about marriage one day – we’re definitely in this for keeps,’ said Cindy.

She and Elan have booked their first holiday to Israel in June, and they have discussed her moving into his Manchester flat in the future

She and Elan have booked their first holiday to Israel in June, and they have discussed her moving into his Manchester flat in the future

Now Cindy is telling her story, with Elan by her side, to support The Brain Tumour Charity

Now Cindy is telling her story, with Elan by her side, to support The Brain Tumour Charity

‘Elan has told me he’s not just there for me, but for my whole family.

‘Mum has told me she knows I’ll be fine – her family are all she cares about – and I think it gives her some peace knowing I’ve found Elan.’

Sarah Lindsell, The Brain Tumour Charity’s chief executive, said: ‘Our hearts go out to Cindy and her family facing this brutal disease.

‘We are so grateful to her for sharing her story to help us raise awareness – brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and under-40s in the UK, yet research is woefully underfunded.

‘Like Cindy’s mum, 30 people a day will be told they have a primary brain tumour – that’s 11,000 people a year.

‘Our research strategy, A Cure Can’t Wait, aims to double survival within 10 years and halve the harm brain tumours have on quality of life.’

The Brain Tumour Charity has set up BRIAN, a global data bank for patients to share experiences and make better-informed decisions about treatment.

First Dates is on 10pm , Wednesdays, Channel 4.

 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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