Jo’s fundraising story, in memory of Debbie Peake

Posted on by Hope for Tomorrow

“I know how much being able to use the unit meant to Debbie. Having that extra time to be there for her kids was a huge relief”

Inspired by her friend Debbie, who sadly died in 2020, Jo from Cirencester has recently completed the Hope for Tomorrow 1000 mile challenge, where participants walked, ran or cycled 1000 miles over the course of a year.

When Debbie received treatment on board a Hope for Tomorrow mobile cancer care unit Jo saw how much difference it made to her life and that of her young family, so Jo decided to fundraise for Hope for Tomorrow as a very fitting tribute to her ‘sporty’ friend. Jo raised over £560 so that more people could benefit from this vital service.

Here’s Jo’s fundraising story

“I knew Debbie for over 20 years. We met when we were 17 and worked in the same sports shop together. We hit it off straight away and we grew up together. I’m godmother to her middle child and even when we weren’t living in the same area any more we were in regular contact with each other.”

“I decided to take part in the 1000 mile challenge because, during the first lockdown, I really needed a challenge, something to keep me motivated. Having the dog to keep me company definitely helped and I got the kids involved at weekends too.”

“I chose to fundraise for Hope for Tomorrow because I know how much being able to use the unit meant to Debbie. Her boys were so young when she started her treatment and having that extra time to be there for her kids was a huge relief”

Debbie’s cancer was diagnosed in February 2017 when emergency surgery to remove an ovarian cyst revealed bowel cancer, which had spread to her lungs and liver. As a very fit personal trainer, with no history of any similar illness in her family Debbie was shocked.

When Debbie’s treatment started, she quickly discovered the impact it was going to have on her life as a mum to three young boys, while running her own business.

The journey from Debbie’s home in Cam to Cheltenham hospital sometimes took hours, because of frequent traffic problems, and with a wait of up to two hours at the hospital before her chemotherapy was administered, the appointments threatened to take over her life.

Debbie Peake, who received treatment on board a Hope for Tomorrow Mobile Cancer Care Unit

“Waiting for two hours for chemotherapy is soul destroying. There isn’t really much you can do, you just have to wait, and I think of all the other things I could be doing with that time”

When Debbie started visiting the Gloucestershire mobile cancer care unit in Stroud, that all changed. Debbie described how she could make the trip in 15 minutes with no parking problems and her treatment always started on time.

“I know that I’ll be seen on time…my husband can take me and just pop off for a coffee and come and pick me up and we can be back within an hour/an hour and a half of leaving the house.”

“I can plan, picking up my children from school or coming back and fitting a client in – You can’t suddenly just decide to stop work one day…It allows for a bit more certainty really, especially where the kids are concerned”

“I think it’s fantastic to have such a facility, I’d be lost without it”

Jo completed her 1000 mile challenge in Debbie’s memory in March, three months before the official challenge deadline and urges others to challenge themselves and support Hope for Tomorrow with their own challenges.

“Debbie was so sporty and active, she would probably be walking with me! I’m so pleased to have completed the challenge in her memory and I’d encourage anyone to step out of their comfort zone and just give something like this a go”

You can watch Debbie talking about her mobile cancer care story here

It costs £198 a day to keep a mobile cancer care unit on the road, and Hope for Tomorrow rely entirely on fundraising and donations to maintain their fleet of 13 units around the UK. The money Jo has raised through her challenge will keep one of these units in operation for almost three days. If you would like to find out more about our challenge events and how you can change the lives of cancer patients, like Debbie, and their families, click here.