A dedicated dad is currently trekking to Everest base camp to raise funds for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where his daughter is being treated for a benign tumour.
Andrew Forster began his Himalayan journey on September 28 and will return to his Penwortham home on October 16, aiming to raise more than £1,000 for the hospital which, he says, has been “incredible” in treating his 11-month old daughter Jemima, who was born with a hemangioma benign tumour.
Read other stories: Preston family raise funds for Ronald McDonald House for little Monica
The 37-year-old, who is also dad to Lauren, 18, and Jacob, 11, says: “We noticed something wasn’t right when Jemima was just a few weeks old. There was a massive swelling on her right temple, like a golf ball and we went to see the doctor, who referred us to Royal Preston Hospital.
“After doctors saw her, she was sent to Alder Hey. She had some MRI scans and doctors had a few ideas of what was wrong but it was only at Alder Hey when she was diagnosed with the hemangioma benign tumour.
“Our biggest concern was whether it had attached to her brain. The tumour is fed by blood vessels and blood pressure so she was given medication to suppress it.
“She has to take this medication three times a day, every eight hours and it is working in reducing the tumour. If this can significantly reduce the tumour, surgeons can operate and remove it. But at the moment she is too small and young to go under general anaesthetic.
“The tumour was shrinking so well, we weened her off the medication, but the tumour grew with a vengeance so we had to put her back on the medication again on a high dosage. It was just awful. Our concern was about it growing outside her temple. Now she is getting bigger, we can see a bit more.
“Jemima doesn’t know any different. It doesn’t seem to bother her, apart from the night terrors which are the side effects of the medication. She will wake up in the middle of the night and be hysterical. It takes up to 45 minutes to calm her down.
“It is awful watching our child go through this.
“We take Jemima to Alder Hey every month. I am not sure what will happen, whether we will ween her off medication again or try for the operation. The whole situation is terrifying. The last thing you want to hear is that there is something wrong with your child. When you hear your child has a tumour, you think the worst.
“But when we go to Alder Hey, everyone is in high spirits. Hopefully surgeons can operate and remove the tumour, leaving a scar on her hairline so no-one can see it and that will be the end of it.
“If the tumour is not removed, she will constantly be on medication. We will have to plan the day around it, with meals and sleeping.”
As a way of saying thank you to Alder Hey for supporting Jemima and his family, Andrew is asking for donations as he treks from Lukla to Everest. He is travelling with five others through Skyhook adventure company.
He flew to India and then to Nepal, where he was carried on a 15-seater plane which is dubbed the world’s most dangerous airline.
He adds: “I had done quite a lot of training for this and used a hypoxic altitude mask to get my body used to lack of oxygen. I am quite fit and have spent a lot of time in the hills training with the armed forces over the past 10 years, but when you’re at altitude like this – all of that goes out of the window and you’re left to fend for yourself.
“I thought I had done some difficult stuff in the past but this is another level. On one of my more difficult days I climbed a mountain of 3,000m ascent, with thousands upon thousands of incredibly steep steps, suspension bridges hundreds of feet in the air and with incredible views. The altitude making every step difficult you had to literally push yourself to your limits.
“But I have a lot of motivation to keep me going.
“It was important for me to do this to say thank you to Alder Hey. A lot of people do fun runs and climb the three peaks, but I wanted something really challenging. I wanted to highlight the incredible work the staff at the hospital carry out for children.
“I was there when the Alfie Evans case was going on and had to go through seeing all the crowds outside berating the nurses. It was awful and they didn’t deserve that treatment. The work they do is incredible. They work so hard and deserve recognition. They are miracle workers. My target is £1,000 but I hope to get more. I will continue to raise money after this trek.”
To support Andrew, who owns Lofty’s and The Wellington Inn, in Glovers Court, Preston, donate to http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Andrew-Forster1