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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Carol Dyce

First Dates star with incurable brain cancer finds 'soul mate' and becomes a proud dad

The First Dates star who melted viewers’ hearts when he opened up about his brain tumour to his match has found love - four years after he appeared on the Channel 4 show.

Adam Carroll, 38, who told his date Leena about his devastating diagnosis moments after he met her, has also become a father.

Although romance didn't blossom between them, Adam was able to confide in Leena about how he collapsed during a work trip to New York the previous year, and ended up being forced to have two brain operations in a week.

And after the programme was aired in 2018 he said how his devastating diagnosis transformed him from “a Jack-the-Lad” who loved clubbing and drinking to someone who wanted to settle down and have a family.

During a work trip to New York in 2017, the IT worker collapsed out of the blue.

Adam remembered: “I was chatting to someone at their desk and, suddenly, I felt an immense pressure in my head and everything looked cloudy.

Daughter Isla was born in November last year (Adam Carroll/The Brain Tumour Charity)
Adam met Amy after deciding to make the most of life (Adam Carroll/The Brain Tumour Charity)

“It felt like my tongue had swollen and I couldn’t get my words out. Then I was out cold and, when I came round, I was surrounded by paramedics.”

He was rushed to hospital and had emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain after an MRI revealed he had a brain tumour, followed by another operation five days later to remove the tumour.

Biopsy results revealed it was a grade three (cancerous) glioma and Adam underwent a year of gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy and then took part in a year- long immunotherapy trial until November 2019.

Since then, his condition has been stable and he has scans every three months.

Adam “went through dark times”, navigating the emotional impact of his shock diagnosis and treatment, compounded by fear he wouldn’t have the relationship he longed for.

Adam opened up to Leena on First Dates (Adam Carroll/The Brain Tumour Charity)

“I kept thinking who would want to take on someone with incurable brain cancer facing an uncertain future,” said Adam, who took up running after his diagnosis and has raised over 12k for cancer charities.

“It really got me down at times and, although I’ve got a wonderful family and friends, I was lonely as it felt like there was something missing from my life.”

Then Adam decided to reframe his attitude.

“I made a conscious choice to shift my thinking to live for the day and make the most of every moment instead of worrying that I’d never meet anyone,” he said.

“As soon as I had that epiphany, I met Amy. She came along at exactly the right time. Now I am with the woman of my dreams and we have a gorgeous baby daughter – I count my blessings every day.”

The couple live with seven-month-old Isla in north London and are planning their future together – moving house and marriage is on the cards.

Adam underwent two brain operations in a week (Adam Carroll/The Brain Tumour Charity)

Now Adam is sharing his touching story through The Brain Tumour charity to support its new signs and symptoms campaign, Better Safe than Tumour, launched today.

Numbers of people in England being diagnosed with a brain tumour have risen by over 50% over the last 20 years, while brain tumours are now the biggest cancer killer of children and under-40s in the UK.

The campaign wants to raise awareness of the common signs and symptoms in children and adults, urging the public to get any concerning symptoms checked out by their GP.

Adam said: “Helping The Brain Tumour Charity raise awareness is very close to my heart and I am 100% behind their new campaign – people just aren’t aware enough of the possible symptoms of brain tumours."

Adam met Amy McGarry, 33 , a primary school teacher, in his local pub on July 17, 2020 during a lift of lockdown when she was celebrating the end of term with her friends.

“Amy caught my eye straight away – she’s absolutely my dream woman looks wise, blonde and gorgeous with a beautiful smile,” he said.

“I started playing pool with one of her friends to try to get talking to her. I kept looking over to catch Amy’s eye, so I wasn’t concentrating on the game and lost!

“I asked if I could buy her a drink and she said, “Adam’s getting a round in” and I ended up buying drinks for about 10 of her friends – I must’ve been keen.”

Smitten Adam said that Amy’s warm, bubbly personality “sealed the deal.”

“Amy is gorgeous but it’s what’s inside that’s most important and she’s kind, funny and cheeky. She gives as good as she gets and keeps me in line – I need that!” he said.

“We exchanged phone numbers and texted each other most days. After a week, we went out for a drink for our first date and out to dinner the week after that. I knew right from the start she was ‘the one.’”

Adam met primary teacher Amy in his local pub (Adam Carroll/The Brain Tumour Charity)
Adam said he fell for Amy's "warm, bubbly personality" (Adam Carroll/The Brain Tumour Charity)

Amy hadn’t seen Adam’s First Dates episode, and he told her about his brain tumour straight away.

“I thought it was only fair to tell her early on,” said Adam.

“I mentioned it on the evening we met, but I didn’t go into detail as we were in a packed pub.

“When we had a proper conversation about it, I was very matter-of-fact. I said that I’d been stable for three years and that my tumour was incurable – and, that if it came back, that would probably be it for me.

“Amy got very tearful but I told her it was her choice if she wanted to be with me and
I understood if she wanted to walk away - she said she wasn’t going anywhere.”

After they’d been seeing each other for a month, Adam was made redundant.

“I decided to go to Malta for a week to get my head together,” he said.

“Amy and I had been talking about whether to make things exclusive – she told me that she usually had a ‘three-month rule’ of seeing someone to work out if they were a good fit for her.

“We said we’d see how we both felt when I got back from my break.”

Instead of enjoying time to himself, Adam pined for Amy.

“I missed her and couldn’t get her out of my mind,” said Adam.

“By my second day, I was texting her offering to pay for her to come out to join me as she was off work, but she said it was too soon.”

While Adam was away, Amy watched his First Dates episode with her mum and dad who gave him the seal of approval.

“When I got back from Malta, we decided to make things official – Amy let me off her three-month rule!” said Adam.

“That was it really and we became closer and closer – I’d found my soul mate.”

In December 2020, Adam got a new job and moved into Amy’s flat in north London soon after. The couple discussed having a family with Amy becoming pregnant in February 2021.

"It was the happiest day of my life when Isla was born on November 9, 2021, I love being a dad and she gives me a purpose,” said Adam.

“Now I feel like the luckiest man in the world to have a beautiful, loving girlfriend and a gorgeous baby girl.”

Isla was born in November last year (Adam Carroll/The Brain Tumour Charity)

And having the family he’d always dreamt of motivates Adam to make the most of every day.

“It was my five-year cancerversary in May – if someone had told me then, I would meet the love of my life and be settled with a baby, I would have said they were mad,” said Adam.

“Now I am happier than ever and making the most of life with my family – I hope my story gives hope to other people living with the impact of a brain tumour diagnosis. Like anyone else, we deserve and can find happiness, too.”

Amy said: “When we met at the pub, I noticed Adam kept looking over at me and my friend said, ‘I think he likes you,’ but I thought he was just being friendly as everyone was happy to be socialising after lockdown.

“When we got chatting and he told me he had a brain tumour, he was so laid-back about it, I didn’t think much about it at the time, and I presumed as he’d had surgery and treatment he was cured.

“We swapped phone numbers and, as he’d mentioned being on First Dates and I hadn’t seen it, I watched it that evening. He came across as bit of a lad and he was quite extrovert in the pub, so I thought he might be too loud for me.

“But when we started seeing each other I saw a different side of him – he’s so kind and gentle. He likes having a laugh but he’s also really chilled out.

“When I showed his First Dates episode to my parents, my mum said, ‘Are you going out with a bloke off the telly?” They both really liked him.

Adam celebrated his five-year cancerversary in May (Adam Carroll/The Brain Tumour Charity)

“When Adam told me about his diagnosis and how his brain cancer could grow back one day, I was shocked and felt for him. But it didn’t put me off – I was falling for him and none of us knows what’s ahead of us.

“We became close quickly – he still talks about the three-month rule but I just made it up to keep him on his toes! He was definitely the first to say ‘I love you’ but I didn’t keep him waiting long before I said it back.

“Having children was important to both of us but I was surprised when it happened so quickly. Adam is besotted with Isla and she absolutely adores him, too, and is a real daddy’s girl.

“I try not to dwell on the ‘what ifs’ but, of course, we both have our down times worrying about Adam’s tumour growing back, especially waiting for scan results.

“But I follow Adam’s cue of being positive and living life in the moment – he inspires me every day – and I’m so glad he didn’t find love on First Dates!”

Dr David Jenkinson, Chief Scientific Officer at The Brain Tumour Charity, which funds world-class research and provides trusted support for anyone affected by the disease, said: “Our warmest wishes go to Adam and Amy on becoming parents and we are hugely grateful Adam is sharing his touching story to support our new campaign, Better Safe than Tumour.

"While brain tumours remain relatively rare, incidence has continued to rise significantly over the last two decades, and this has unfortunately not yet been matched by the tangible progress in diagnosis, treatment and survival outcomes seen in many other cancers.

“With over 12,000 people now being diagnosed every year in the UK, and the impacts on diagnosis seen due to the pandemic, renewed action to support more people to recognise the signs and come forward to see an NHS doctor has never been more needed.

“We absolutely want to reassure people, that despite this increase in cases, brain tumours are still uncommon. But it’s so important that we see greater awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease to ensure anyone affected can get the diagnosis, treatment and support they need at the earliest opportunity.

“The warning signs vary by age group, as well as due to the type of tumour and where in the brain it is located.

"The most common symptoms in adults are headaches, changes in cognition or vision, seizures, nausea or sickness and fatigue, which may get worse over time – for example, headaches may get more intense or happen more regularly.

"For children, persistent vomiting or headaches, abnormal eye movements, an abnormal head position such as a tilt or co-ordination problems are common signs to look out for.

“We’d encourage anyone who is worried about a symptom that’s unusual for them, and particularly if it is persistent or they experience a combination of symptoms, to speak to their doctor – to help rule a brain tumour out.

"Anyone concerned can also speak to us on 0808 800 0004 or find out more about the possible signs and symptoms at We’re here for you.”

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