Posted on Friday 2 August 2019

in Press releases

Father takes on 100-mile cycling challenge after daughter’s devastating cancer journey

A father inspired by his daughter’s positivity during a devastating cancer journey is taking on his own challenge to raise vital funds for a charity that has supported his family.

Ian with his daughter Tasha who was first diagnosed with melanoma when she was 14.

Ian Adkins, 55, from Corsham, is taking part in Prudential RideLondon this Sunday and cycling 100 miles in aid of CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, after his daughter was diagnosed with melanoma.

Ian’s daughter Tasha, 23, was first diagnosed with melanoma in 2010, when she was just 14 years old. What followed has been a nine year journey for the family with crushing setbacks, a beautiful wedding and incredible positivity in the face of cancer.

Ian said: “Tasha was first diagnosed when she had a mole on her arm and so we took her to the GP as it just didn’t look right. He said he had never heard of a case of melanoma in a teenager, but Tasha had a biopsy which confirmed it was cancer.

“At the time, there were no effective treatments for melanoma – it was all palliative. If you read the statistics, 95 per cent of people diagnosed with Tasha’s type of cancer didn’t live beyond a year. But Tasha was one of the first on a combined immunotherapy treatment and the first round of it worked. Without that treatment she wouldn’t be with us now.”

However the melanoma tragically returned when Tasha was 17, and again when she was 20.

“The last time the melanoma returned, it was stage four and Tasha had tumours all around her body. She’s had so many side effects and issues. She has had gastritis, meningitis, a blood clot in her leg, a toe and part of her foot amputated, two tumours in her brain and one in her spine. The spinal tumour bled requiring emergency spinal surgery and her having to learn to walk again following paralysis.

“One of the brain tumours also bled leaving her with stroke-like symptoms. It was miraculous that she survived it. But early this year the doctors told us her immunotherapy treatment wasn’t working and decided to stop it. They told Tasha to enjoy the rest of her life.”

It was at this time that Tasha and her boyfriend Oscar Perkins, who she had met on a vegan dating site a year earlier, decided to get married.

“Tasha got married in a registry office just four days after her brain surgery. She had a beautiful white wedding celebration on a gloriously sunny and happy day in February.”

Ian said it was a fully vegan wedding supported by Gift of a Wedding, a charity that helps terminally ill young adults get married. He gave an emotional father of the bride speech where he thanked Tasha’s new husband Oscar, for his incredible support.

“It was an amazing day. It was an immensely happy, but also emotional day.”

Throughout her treatment, Tasha hasn’t let her diagnosis define her. Tasha achieved a 2:1 degree in drama and now lives in her own flat with her husband Oscar and their puppy Pixie. The family hope that a trial Tasha has now been accepted on will be successful. “We are just nervously waiting and hoping she will be well enough to do the trial.

“She is so positive. Normally she is just worried about everyone else but herself. She is amazing. She never complains and just gets on with it and is so incredibly stoic.”

It was at the CLIC house that I saw how much the charity does. The thing that has really struck me about being a parent of a child with cancer, is how lonely the experience can be. CLIC Sargent understands the quiet desperation of parents and helps families as much as the young people themselves."

Tasha with her social worker Mark.

Tasha received the majority of her treatment at Churchill Hospital in Oxford, over an hour and half and 73 miles away from the family’s homes. Throughout her treatment, the family have been supported by CLIC Sargent.

“We first had contact with CLIC Sargent the day after Tasha was told she had cancer. Our social worker Mark was a friendly face at a difficult time.”

The family were able to stay at CLIC Sargent’s Home from Home in Oxford, which provides free accommodation close to the hospital for families.

“It was at the CLIC house that I saw how much the charity does. The thing that has really struck me about being a parent of a child with cancer, is how lonely the experience can be. CLIC Sargent understands the quiet desperation of parents and helps families as much as the young people themselves. They understand that it is not just the emotional impact, but the additional costs of repeated hospital trips, lost earnings, and the need to look after the sick child’s siblings as well as elderly parents.  I simply can’t say how valuable that support is.”

Ian said he has emotionally struggled to deal with the impact of Tasha’s journey. He said as well as seeing a counsellor, cycling has helped him to cope – which is why he decided to sign up to the Ride London challenge to raise funds for CLIC Sargent.

“Emotionally I have been in a very bleak place and so I needed to do something positive for my own sanity. And so I decided to sign up for RideLondon. I wanted to focus on the fundraising and Tasha and do something good and positive – and it’s been really quite therapeutic. I’ve now raised £2,000 and it’s just one week to the challenge. I’m feeling incredibly nervous!”

Sarah Manion, CLIC Sargent’s Sports and Challenge Events Manager, said: “We are so in awe of Ian’s incredible dedication and commitment to raise vital funds for CLIC Sargent and grateful. We will be there on the day cheering him all the way to the finish line!”

To sponsor Ian’s challenge, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/teamtasha4younglives

Notes to editors

For more information about CLIC Sargent please contact Jessica Rees at jessica.rees@clicsargent.org.uk or call 0117 311 2659.

About cancer in children and young people

Today, 12 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

About CLIC Sargent

When cancer strikes young lives CLIC Sargent helps families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health. CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families. We provide specialist support, to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family. We will fight tirelessly for them, individually, locally and nationally. For more information, visit www.clicsargent.org.uk

Note to sub editors

Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.

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