A woman was so touched by a story she read in The Chronicle about a terminally ill woman’s dying wish, that she decided to do everything she could to help make her final dream come true.
Fitness instructor Jane Ledsham felt compelled to help raise cash for Kate Harding’s cause after reading how much the 37-year-old desperately wanted to return to Australia where she travelled to on a dream gap year trip in 2008, to say her final goodbyes to the special friends she made there.
In the middle of her travels, Kate, who lives in a rural village outside Chester that she has asked us not to reveal, was diagnosed with myxoid liposarcoma, and has now been told by doctors that her cancer is incurable.
She issued a plea to the public to help her raise enough cash for one last trip there, and was overwhelmed when she surpassed her £1,500 target in just a few days, meaning she and her wife Saffy Sparkles are able to fly out Down Under next month.
Her story has touched the many people who have donated to Kate’s fund, not least Jane, 43, who felt so strongly about helping Kate that she has decided to organise a special charity night to raise even more cash.
Jane, from Pulford, who runs her own business Target Fitness Training, has organised the 80s-themed aerobics night to be held next Monday evening (February 9) and has secured the backing of Chester’s Queen’s School, who have agreed the event can be held in the sports hall.
“It’s supposed to be a lighthearted and fun night. I’ve been an aerobics instructor since 1991 and I thought about what I could do to try and get more people to donate,” she told The Chronicle.
“I’d never met Kate but I read her story online and it just really touched me - bless her heart. Most people were wonderfully supportive but I did see a couple of negative comments on social media and it really inspired me to do something to help her so I got in touch.
“Kate’s going to help me with the 80s playlist and I’m hoping we can try and raise at least £150. It will be mostly aerobics but some legs, bums and tums as well, and the session will last an hour,” Jane added.
The extra cash will go towards charities Hannah’s Chance Foundation and Sarcoma UK and also to give Kate and Saffy the chance to enjoy some of the Australian activities they missed out on last time, because Kate was undergoing treatment.
It is especially important to Kate to raise awareness of Sarcoma, having previously been concerned about a lump on her leg more than seven years ago. Concerned, she had asked UK doctors to check it out but was told it was nothing to worry about.
But only four weeks into her trip, she had to undergo various tests after the lump grew, and was diagnosed with the rare form of cancer not long afterwards. She spent six weeks undergoing painful radiation which caused internal and external burns, and had to have a large tumour removed from her thigh at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.
Kate said: “I am desperate to raise awareness of unexplained lumps, and at least for doctors to offer an X-ray, as too quickly they just pass you off. It may just be a lump but that lump could be life changing like mine was.
“It’s been heartwarming to see how kind people like Jane have been in trying to help me, but I’m quite a shy person and don’t feel I’m worthy of it all. I’m just me, I’m no different to anyone else with Sarcoma so it’s unbelievable that these people I’ve never met before want to help me,” she added. “But ultimately we hope to have some fun. I don’t want to be lying on my death bed wishing I had done certain things.”
Kate and Saffy will fly out to Australia on March 26 for just under a month. They hope to meet with the Griffin family who looked after them during Kate’s treatment, the surgeon who treated her and do some fun activities including a helicopter ride over the Gold Coast.
The pair will document their adventure on a blog you can follow here: http://katesfinalozwish.blogspot.co.uk/ and you can still donate to Kate here: http://www.gofundme.com/k0ab94
The aerobics night starts at 6.30pm on Monday with a dresscode of black leggings and ‘something fluorescent’. Jane is asking for donations of £5 or more from participants. To book a place, email Jane at Janey1971@hotmail.co.uk