RAF-mad Leeds schoolboy completes grueling hike up three mountains in memory of mum who died of breast cancer
He completed the ‘emotional’ challenge with his dad Andrew, 53, today (Wednesday) to raise funds for the hospice that cared for his mum Andrea who died six months ago.
Andrea, 49, who worked as an analyst for the NHS for 20 years, was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in October 2019.
Her condition deteriorated when it spread to her liver and she was told late last year that she only had months left to live.
She was hospitalised on December 12, but thanks to the ‘brilliant efforts’ of St Gemma’s Hospice staff in Leeds, she spent Christmas at home.
It was her final wish to have ‘one last Christmas’ with Jacob and husband Andrew and she died two days later on December 27.
Jacob climbed roughly 23 miles in June while wearing his favourite RAF Flying Suit and hopes to raise funds for St Gemma’s hospice who ‘tried to save my mummy’.
He said: “I’m so happy me and daddy have finished this challenge. I hope mummy is smiling, looking down from heaven.
“I hope she is proud of me.”
Dad Andrew said he could never have prepared for how tough the challenge would be – both emotionally and physically.
He said that Andrea would have been 'amazingly proud' of little Jacob for everything he's achieved in his young life.
He said: "Andrea was always so supportive and proud of Jacob's achievements and he asked me if she would be proud of him - and all I can say is of course she would be.
"She'd be amazingly proud of him, and so am I."
The pair have been fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund for years, as little Jacob hopes to one day become a pilot himself, but he said this was the ‘most significant’ yet.
Andrew, who works for Yorkshire Ambulance, said: “I don’t think I prepared enough for just how emotional it was going to be – the last few days have been so overwhelming.
“When we finished it was a beautiful moment – it felt a bit like a massive weight had been lifted off our shoulders.
“We set off six months ago to do this challenge and we’ve completed it.
“Jacob and I have done many challenges in the past but this has been the most significant one we’ve ever done.
“We were devastated after Andrea passed and to do this in her memory and to raise funds for such a worthy cause has been perfect.
“My knees are completely shot now, I don’t think I realised how tough this was going to be – both physically and mentally.
“This entire journey Jacob and I have gone through together – it's been life changing.”
The pair have raised £35,000 so far for St Gemma’s Hospice and wanted to thank everyone for all of the support they have received through an ‘impossibly difficult’ time in their lives.
He added: “Doing all of this has helped us focus on something so positive and beautiful, in such a difficult time for us.
“It’s been an amazing experience. And being in such a beautiful and peaceful place has been incredible.
“We want to thank everyone who has supported us since Andrea passed.
“All of the messages we have received, all of the love, it’s been truly extraordinary.”
Andrea was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer at St James Hospital in Leeds, after she felt a lump while feeling ‘completely healthy’ and showing no symptoms.
She underwent a successful treatment of chemotherapy until March 2020 and had a mastectomy to remove the tumour.
Sadly, following some tests in April that year, doctors discovered that the tumours had spread to her liver.
The determined mum-of-one continued to work in her role collating figures for NHS England as part of the Yorkshire and Humberside Covid task force during her chemo.
After her death, Andrew paid tribute to a ‘fantastic mother’ to little Jacob who didn’t deserve to lose her either.
He said: “We miss her terribly, for a significant proportion of my life I’ve seen people pass away working in the army and in the ambulance.
“I’m no stranger to grief and I thought I'd prepared myself.
“Even now it’s so tough. We miss her so much.
“She was such a fantastic mother to Jacob. She was a far better parent than I could ever be for Jacob.
“Everything that Jacob is today is because of Andrea.
“Jacob has been so brave through it all, I’m so proud of both of them.”
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