Family of 'loving' cancer victim sets out to raise £100k

By Jessica Elgot, November 24, 2011
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Sam Keen with Ali on their wedding day

Sam Keen with Ali on their wedding day

The family of a "loving and dedicated" 27-year-old who died of cancer just weeks after his wedding have set up a foundation in his memory with a £100,000 target.

Sam Keen died a fortnight ago after a seven-year battle with melanoma. He had attended Rosh Pinah and Watford Grammar and was diagnosed while studying at Liverpool University.

Mr Keen, who worked for estate agents Preston Bennett, underwent more than 20 operations to remove tumours and endured chemotherapy, radiotherapy and gamma knife brain radiotherapy. He also tried a number of experimental melanoma drugs. He married his long-time sweetheart, Ali, shortly before his death.

The foundation was set up by his widow, his parents, his parents-in-law and his four sisters, together with their husbands. It will fund melanoma research at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Kensington, where Mr Keen's oncologist, Professor Martin Gore, is medical director.

Supporters have already raised £25,000.

"Setting up the foundation just seems like the obvious way to pay tribute to Sam," Ali Keen said. "He really believed in the work that the doctors at the Royal Marsden were doing and considered many of the staff there to be good friends.

"Sam managed to be so many things to so many people. His friends knew him as being a cheeky joker. To his sisters he was a fiercely protective friend, to his parents he was a loving and dedicated son and to me he was my best friend and soul-mate.

"He was such a gentle guy and always knew the right thing to say. After one particularly serious operation, he was recuperating on holiday by a swimming pool and a child came over to ask what the big scar running across his back was. He told the kid that he'd just had a big fight with a shark - and won."

She added: "It was quite a shock for a lot of his friends to see him so ill and his first priority was always to put them at ease with a joke to make sure they felt comfortable. That was the thing that always surprised me about Sam. No matter how bad the pain got or how difficult it was for him to speak, he never stopped thinking about other people."

Mr Keen's father Peter said the family had been "absolutely overwhelmed by the support that we've received so far from our friends and extended family. We're so proud that Sam will continue to touch the lives of others for many years to come."

Last updated: 4:57pm, November 24 2011