Taking part in this year’s Cancer Research UK Pretty Muddy will be a highly emotional event for Ellie Astley.
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The 18-year-old lost her mum, Alexandra, to breast cancer only two weeks ago but she is determined to tackle the obstacle course at Preston’s Moor Park on June 16 to make her proud.
Alexandra Astley, of Much Hoole, was a popular teacher at Brownedge St Mary’s Catholic High School - a job she loved doing until she got ill.
Ellie’s dad, and Alexandra’s husband, Stewart, says: “Alexandra was diagnosed with HER2 triple-negative breast cancer in August 2016 and she underwent trial for immunotherapy and chemotherapy. Initially, she showed signs of improvement but then it started to grow again,
“Last spring she had a mastectomy and then had a period where she had no treatment as she looked and felt quite well. The doctor was happy with her progress and was happy to see how things went.
Alexandra’s family meant everything to her and she to us. Knowing she loved us gave us the strength, inspiration and motivation to tackle the challenges we faced and achieve the successes we achieved together.Stewart Astley
“But a later scan revealed the cancer had grown and she started chemotherapy again,
“Last November Alexandra and I went to a dinner dance. She felt really hot and her face dropped like Bell’s Palsy. We were told this was swelling due to a brain tumour.
“A month later she had radiotherapy and we were told the brain tumour was shrinking, but the other cancers had grown.
“The primary concern was the brain tumour. In February this year she started having fits because the tumour had started to grow.
“It was clear the radiotherapy had not been successful. However, we could not do it again as it would damage healthy tissues.
“She had a couple of bouts of chemotherapy as a last throw of the dice, but that was not working.
“Six weeks ago we decided to take Alexandra out of treatment as it was only making her ill. We hoped this way she could enjoy the rest of her time with her family and remain in reasonable health.
“We event managed a holiday to Euro Disney six weeks ago, but since then, her health had gone down hill. She passed away on Sunday May 27, aged 48.”
Stewart adds Alexandra’s passing has been tough for the family, but he is keeping positive for the sake of their four children, aged 28, 21, 18 and eight.
He says: “Alexandra’s family meant everything to her and she to us. Knowing she loved us gave us the strength, inspiration and motivation to tackle the challenges we faced and achieve the successes we achieved together.
“We loved her dearly and always will. She touched everyone’s heart, captured mine and surrendered hers to me and for that I will be eternally grateful.”
Stewart admits he is proud of his daughter for taking a proactive approach in honouring her mum. He says: “I am very proud of Ellie. She has never done a run before but if something good can come out of a bad situation and help raise more funds, then it is fantastic.
“She wants to raise money to stop other people going through what we are going through.
“The more money, she raises the better. A lot of people will know Alexandra as she taught at Brownedge St Mary’s Catholic High School. She will have taught thousands of pupils over her 15 year career.”
Ellie will be doing Pretty Muddy with her friend Lauren Hughes and Hutton Sixth Form psychology teacher Anna Palmer and her daughter Ella. She adds: “Seeing the amount of people doing it and sharing their stories is a really nice thing to do. I have a target of £1,500 and am almost there. I want to raise as much money as possible so other families don’t have to go through this like we have.”
To sponsor Ellie visit www.gofundme.com/ghtb2-race-for-life-pretty-muddy-5k