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Woman whose father died just three days after he was diagnosed with cancer to take 160ft plunge for charity

PUBLISHED: 16:33 31 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:44 31 May 2017

Maria Connor who is doing a bungee jump for the Big C charity. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Maria Connor who is doing a bungee jump for the Big C charity. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

archant 2017

A woman whose father died just three days after being told he had cancer is taking the plunge and braving a 160ft bungee jump.

Maria Connor who is doing a bungee jump for the Big C charity. Maria pictured with her parents John and Jean Connor. Picture : supplied Maria Connor who is doing a bungee jump for the Big C charity. Maria pictured with her parents John and Jean Connor. Picture : supplied

Maria Connor’s father, John, was undergoing tests at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in February 2014, when he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer and multiple secondary tumours.

His symptoms hadn’t been obvious until he was admitted with an apparent chest infection and by the time they found the root cause it was already terminal - he died less than three days after his diagnosis.

Now, 34-year-old Mrs Connor, from Attleborough, is taking part in Big C’s Big Bungee Jump event to help raise funds for other families facing similar situations.

Mrs Connor said: “While I don’t know if it would have changed the outcome in his case, developing better diagnostic tools and equipment to catch tumours early and more effective treatments could make so much of a difference for other people with cancer and their families.

“I think the work national charities do is valuable but a person’s donation can be a bit of a ‘drop in the bucket’.

“Whereas Big C, being a local charity helping the people in this region, can focus on specific needs of cancer patients and families in Norfolk and make every donation count.”

It was a challenging year for Mrs Connor’s family.

During her father’s last days, her aunt was also receiving treatment for throat cancer and within months of her father’s passing,

Mrs Connor herself then became critically ill and spent a period of time in intensive care.

“After losing dad and then later that year experiencing health problems myself and almost dying, I was keen to do something worthwhile to help raise funds whilst also making every precious moment count,” she said.

Having taken part in other extreme sport fundraisers, Mrs Connor said she was drawn to this type of fundraising event for more than one reason.

“I suppose I must have a slightly adventurous streak at heart but after everything that my dad, my auntie and then having to confront my own health issues, I wanted to face up to anything that would usually frighten me.

“I haven’t actually started to think about the big bungee jump as yet.

“I think I will put off thinking about it until I’m on the platform, by which time I might as well jump anyway.”

The charity’s bungee platform will be based outside The Forum, in Norwich city centre, on June 11 - with jumps taking place from noon to 5pm.

And if participants raise £200 in sponsorship they will be eligible to bungee for free.

Every jump means that the Big C can provide two people with the support and information they require when affected by cancer and ensures the charity provides the best in cancer care.

“When my auntie Mary was unwell, the family didn’t actually find out about her cancer until she was in remission.

“We wish we had have known sooner so that we could have supported her thought this time.

She added: “Most importantly, we’re living during such uncertain times.

“There are many cuts to research and hospital funding and with so many finding it difficult to access health care services, this is something I can do.

“It’s not possible for the person on the street to change public policy overnight but trying to fundraise to support those who need help and support research and equipment funding is something you can do.

“It’s a way of saying, even if things look bleak and uncertain I’m not going to be beaten by it and give up.”

Clive Evans, director of income generation and communications for Big C, added: “Life is all about having different experiences and creating memories and this is certainly one you’ll never forget.

“Every day around 22 people are diagnosed with cancer across Norfolk and Waveney. Those signing up for The Big Bungee are ensuring that we can continue to provide the best support and care to the local community.

“It’s only through the generosity of our supporters who give up their time to fundraise for us, that we’re able to continue making a difference.”

• Limited early bird tickets for The Big Bungee are available at £65 via the Big C website at www.big-c.co.uk/bungee.

• To learn more about the work Big C does to improve the lives of those affected by cancer in Norfolk and Waveney, visit the website at www.big-c.co.uk.

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