26 Oct 2022

Fantastic fundraisers Rebecca and Jo share their family’s AML story

Rebecca and her Mum, Jo, have been raising money for Leukaemia UK since Rebecca’s father, Ash, passed away four years ago. Amazingly, they have now raised over £12,000 to help accelerate progress in diagnosis, treatment and care for those with leukaemia. It is their hope that through their efforts, they can help raise awareness of leukaemia and it’s symptoms and prevent other families from suffering the loss that they have. They spoke to Leukaemia UK about their family’s experience.

When Ash Firth collapsed at home in the morning of January 26th 2018, he had no idea he was suffering from leukaemia. Tragically it was too late to give him any treatment and Ash, who was 72, died later that day in hospital. He had suffered a massive bleed on the brain as a result of undiagnosed Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).

“We had never really heard of or thought much about leukaemia before,” said daughter Rebecca, who lives in Pudsey, near Leeds. “We had no idea it was AML until the A&E doctors told us. It was quite advanced. The doctors said his blood results were off the chart, and he must’ve been very strong.

“Looking back over Christmas, Dad had been very tired and he’d looked grey. We had a lovely Christmas together but he was sleeping a lot. We put it down to him being worn out from work. He and my Mum ran a lacemaking and needlecraft supply business and they’d gone flat out before Christmas doing lots of shows and events. Their aim was to give it one last big push then retire the following year. Then two weeks before he died he got a really sore throat. The doctor didn’t like the look of it and referred him to a consultant but he died before the appointment.”

Since his death, Ash’s family have set about dedicating themselves to fundraising for Leukaemia UK, in the hopes the charity will fund research that will discover more effective and kind treatments that will stop other families being devastated in the same way. They set up an ‘in memory’ page on Leukaemia UK’s website for Ash’s funeral. Since then their endeavours have including appealing for second hand lace-making equipment and selling it for 100% money to Leukaemia UK, raffles, and even a sponsored head shave by Ash’s sister, Auntie Deb. So far the family have raised over £12,000.

“We also want to support Leukaemia UK’s campaigning work – particularly in terms of raising awareness about leukaemia symptoms,” said Rebecca. “I think my Dad felt ill for a while and he was stubborn and wouldn’t go to the doctor. I would urge people to just listen to your own body and you know of something isn’t right and go get it checked out. Don’t struggle through. Between us we lost our husband, soulmate, Dad, business partner and best friend. Life will never be the same again. You learn to live with the loss, you never get over it.”For more information on the signs and symptoms of leukaemia, please visit our information page. You can help support life-saving research for those who receive a leukaemia diagnosis, by visiting Rebecca and Jo’s fundraising page.

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