Eastbourne swimmer shares heartbreaking story to raise money for cancer charities

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An Eastbourne woman who tragically lost her sister and nephew is taking on an epic swimming challenge in their memory.

Dawn Barratt is taking on the brand new triple 5k challenge in the annual Swimathon this year to help raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.

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To make the challenge even harder, she is completing the 15km distance in one day.

Both of these charities are very close to her heart after tragically losing two of her family members a few years ago.

Keen swimmer Dawn said, “I have taken part in every Swimathon and I’ve always wanted to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.

“You just never know when you or your family will need them, and it’s very important to me to raise as much money as I can.”

Dawn has shared her heartbreaking story with the Herald in a bid to raise money and awareness for the charities.

She said, “In December 2012, my sister’s 16-year-old son, Jack, was diagnosed with leukaemia. He was in the Royal Marsden Hospital for over six months and was constantly undergoing treatment.

“In June 2015, my sister aged 51, died unexpectedly. Myself and all the family were absolutely devastated.

“She was there for Jack every time he had to go to the Royal Marsden and was a massive support to him. A few months after she died, Jack’s treatment for leukaemia stopped and he was in remission. This was such fantastic news but my sister never got to know he was in remission, and this made Jack really angry because he knew his mum would be so pleased for him.”

However, two years later the family received some devastating news.

Dawn said, “In July 2017, two months before his 21st birthday, following a normal check-up at the Royal Marsden, he was told that the leukaemia had returned.

“Again, he was admitted to the Royal Marsden where he underwent more tests and chemotherapy. Following lots of tests and donor testing, Jack started to receive stem cell treatment in January 2018.

“Jack initially responded brilliantly to the stem cells, and the doctors and staff were really pleased with him. Jack and his partner, Holly, had decided that once Jack was better they would buy a new home together.

“Jack was admitted to hospital in July 2018, as he was getting different infections and generally felt very poorly.

“He was monitored closely and given various medication, but nothing seemed to work. Three weeks later, Jack suddenly went blind. The consultants didn’t know what had caused this and Jack was devastated.

“His condition got worse and he was unable to walk, see or do anything. Again, the consultants couldn’t understand why this was happening as all his tests were coming back fine. Test results showed that the stem cells had worked and there was no leukaemia; Jack had been right.

“On Friday 14 September 2018, Jack sadly died, aged 22, with his partner Holly by his side the whole time.

“It was absolutely heart breaking. No one could believe that after all the pain and suffering he went through that this would happen to him. He was so brave and never complained about anything, even when he went blind. He really was a hero.

“My sister and now her youngest son have both died and I felt (and still do) totally useless.

“The whole family were distraught and all I wanted to do was make it better for them all, but unfortunately I couldn’t. I just want to bring them both back. I know I can’t do that nor can I make anything better for everyone, but I can swim, and I can use this to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.”

If you would like to sponsor Dawn visit click here.