'˜Inspirational' Drusillas keeper takes on skydive while battling cancer

A Drusillas keeper battling cancer jumped out of a plane while still undergoing chemo to raise money for the team who saved her life.

Monday, 13th August 2018, 12:59 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:04 pm
Drusillas' Zoo Keeper Gabby Charlesworth raises money for charity after conquering cancer

21-year-old Gabby Charlesworth lost a kidney and had a tumour ‘the size of a mango’ removed after finding out she had adrenal cancer following a routine doctor’s appointment just last year.

She battled for her life and has come out triumphant – and wants to give back to those who treated her.

She said, “Apart from taking out the tumour (I am told it was the size of a mango) with the adrenal gland, I also lost a kidney and part of my aorta and diaphragm in the process – but I have survived, when many are not so lucky.”

Gabby ahead of her skydive

“I was never expecting to find I had cancer,” the keeper said, “I just mentioned on a routine doctor’s appointment that my voice seemed a bit deeper.

“At only 21, the thought of having anything life threatening never crossed my mind. I was fit and healthy – enjoying my horse riding and job as a zookeeper at Drusillas.”

Adrenal cancer is extremely rare and aggressive, particularly for people in Gabby’s age group – one in every million people are diagnosed with it.

Drusillas' Zoo Keeper Gabby Charlesworth raises money for charity after conquering cancer SUS-180813-115045001

She was quickly referred to the specialist endocrinologist and surgeon at Kings College Hospital in London.

Gabby said, “As soon as I was well enough, I decided I wanted to do as skydive to raise money to help the amazing team at Kings at the HPB unit, who not only saved my life, but treat others like me with life threatening conditions.”

Fifty per cent of the funds from her skydive is also going to Cancer Research UK, to continue its work in finding cures for cancers.

Gabby said, “I had never done anything like a skydive before but figured now was the time to do something extraordinary with the life I have been given. It was an amazing experience and I would recommend it to anyone!”

Drusillas’ director said, “We are so immensely proud of Gabby. It’s hard to put into words how terrible this past year for her must have been. She has been a warrior throughout her treatment, and has been so keen to get back to work!

“It was all we could do to keep her away until she was recovered!”

“Gabby is a truly inspirational and amazing young woman and to do a skydive while still undergoing chemotherapy just proves what an incredibly strong person Gabby is!”

You can sponsor Gabby and her skydive by going to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GabbyCharlesworth