Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Mums Rallying Round to Help Cancer Warrior Raise Funds; MOTHER OF FOUR'S FIGHTING SPIRIT AND LOVE OF LIFE INSPIRES FRIENDS' EFFORTS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Mums Rallying Round to Help Cancer Warrior Raise Funds; MOTHER OF FOUR'S FIGHTING SPIRIT AND LOVE OF LIFE INSPIRES FRIENDS' EFFORTS

Article excerpt

Byline: BARBARA HODGSON Reporter barbara.hodgson@ncjmedia.com @BarbaraHodgson5

A BAND of mothers is busy raising funds in tribute to their friend Rebekah Simpson who has secondary breast cancer, which is currently incurable.

Rebekah, winner of a Chronicle Woman of the Year award, has inspired her pals by her work for cancer charities during even the toughest of times. The mum of four, from Whitley Bay, has raised thousands for the likes of Cancer Research UK as a thank-you for the support she's received since her initial diagnosis in 2009.

She was six weeks pregnant with her youngest child, son Archie, now five, when told she had breast cancer, which had already spread to her lymph nodes, and it marked the start of years of gruelling treatment trying to keep the disease in check.

But in April she learned the cancer had spread to her brain and friends have been busy fundraising in her name to help mark her upcoming 10th wedding anniversary celebrations.

The group of local mums, all with children at Marine Park First School in North Tyneside, have secured some spectacular prizes for a charity raffle in aid of Maggie's Centre at the Freeman Hospital which has provided Rebekah's family with support.

Already they have raised PS2,400 - enough to keep the centre open for one day - and they hope to double the amount before the raffle is drawn on September 17, the date of Rebekah and husband Mark's anniversary.

Gemma Turnbull, one of the core team of five fundraisers, said: "It's more than we ever expected!" So they've now set the target of covering a second day's running costs.

Rebekah, 45, who returned on Sunday from a family holiday in Portugal, said she is blown away by her friends' achievement which has motivated her afresh.

"I can't really put it into words," she said. "The amount of effort they have gone to and the amount of money raised, it's amazing. I believe very much in one day at a time and making the most of every opportunity that comes along in the day."

It was mother-of-two Gemma who nominated Rebekah for Woman of the Year at the 2015 Glass Slipper Awards, run by The Chronicle Sunshine Fund.

Gemma, whose son Jack is in the same class at Marine Park First School as Rebekah's daughter Josie, remembers how touched she was to win the award.

She remains in awe of her gutsy friend who always has a smile on her face and asks after others first.

"She's phenomenal," she said. Following her 2009 diagnosis of breast cancer, when it was already in her lymph nodes, Rebekah underwent an immediate mastectomy.

Chemotherapy continued through-Rebekah Mark aged 14-out her pregnancy and, once Archie was born, he spent his first three weeks with her in Newcastle's Freeman Hospital while she had radiotherapy.

Also mother to three daughters -Emma, 14, and Evie, nine, as well as seven-year-old Josie - Rebekah posted updates on her condition during her ongoing fundraising work, telling how secondary breast cancer in her spine was confirmed in 2012 before it spread further the following year. …

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