THE heartbroken family of a brave young woman who died just 17 days after being diagnosed with cancer have organised a number of fund-raising events in her memory.
It was only in April when Rachel Dodds visited her doctor complaining of a bloated stomach, but a month later she was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that attacks the lining of the abdomen.
Rachel and her family then received the devastating news that the disease was so advanced there was nothing that could be done to save her life.
Rachel died at her home in First Row, Ellington, on Tuesday, May 21, just six days before her 30th birthday.
Rachel’s mum Hazel, 55, said: “We could not do anything for Rachel, it all happened so quickly. We were completely helpless. We could only bring her home. That is all she wanted. It just shocked everybody.
“When they realised what the cancer was, it was an aggressive form of cancer, there was nothing they could do, but I would not have been able to live with myself if I could not have brought her home.”
Rachel, a former Ashington High School pupil, died just ten days after returning home from the Freeman Hospital.
Around 500 people attended Rachel’s funeral at St Bartholomew Church in Cresswell on Wednesday, May 29.
Hazel said: “She was so dignified and courageous. She was so grateful for everything people did. Although she knew nothing could be done to save her life she was never angry.
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“I used to say to her, as a mother I think it should be me to go first, but she always said she wouldn’t want me to go.
“Every day the news got worse for her and yet she was so dignified. When she came home she said she was not scared of dying.”
Rachel’s family and friends now want to raise money for research to help stop others from going through their heartache.
They also aim to raise awareness of the vital role Macmillan nurses play in caring for cancer patients in their own homes.
Hazel said: “Rachel’s only wish was to return home to be with her family and friends and due to family circumstances this was possible, but without the support of Macmillan nurses this may not be the case for other families.”
Rachel’s friend Lauren Barrett, 28, will be taking on three running events totalling 35 miles to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
The first will be the Norse 10k Challenge, a gruelling obstacle course near Druridge Bay, which takes place on Sunday, July 28. Lauren will be joined by her boyfriend and Rachel’s brother Sean and Rachel’s cousin David Lynn.
On Friday, August 16, Lauren will then be running 16 miles from the Boots store in Cramlington to the store in North Shields.
And last but by no means least, she will be taking on the Great North Run on Sunday, September 15.
Also wanting to show her support is Rachel’s friend Gemma Brennan, who will be taking part in a Trekathon of 26 miles over Hadrian’s Wall.
Hazel’s colleagues from the mother and baby unit at St George’s Hospital, Morpeth, will be taking part in the Race For Life in Newcastle to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Hazel said: “Since losing Rachel, I would say never take life for granted. People should be trying to raise awareness all the time at any opportunity.”
Anyone who would like to make a donation to Lauren can visit http://www.justgiving.com/lauren-barrett4 and for Gemma, http://www.justgiving.com/Gemma-Brennan