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‘My world has changed forever’ says devastated daughter who lost Pudsey dad to cancer hours after diagnosis

A sponsored litter pick in Pudsey aims to raise much-needed funds in the fight against leukaemia.

Pudsey’s Rebecca Thresh lost her beloved father to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML); a devastating disease that claims over 2,600 lives each year in the UK and has a five-year survival rate of just 15.3%. 

Pudsey bobbing turner Ash Firth was 72 years old and looking forward to retirement when he been feeling unusually tired.

Attributing his symptoms down to the stress of the festive season, Ash’s daughter Rebecca, 48, said: “Looking back over Christmas, dad had been very tired and he’d looked grey, but we just put it down to him being worn out from work.

“He and my mum ran a lacemaking and needlecraft supply business, and they’d gone flat out before Christmas doing lots of shows and events. Their aim was to give it one last big push then retire the following year.”

Campaign: Rebecca Thresh and mum Jo.

After Christmas Ash visited his GP to complain of a sore throat, and was referred to a consultant. Tragically, before the appointment, Ash collapsed at home on the morning of January 28 2022, and died just hours later at Leeds General Infirmary. He had suffered a massive bleed on the brain as a result of undiagnosed Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML).

“It was a massive shock,” said Rebecca. “He was really fit and healthy – nothing ailed him normally. We had no idea it was AML until the A&E doctors told us – it was the first time I’d ever heard of it. The doctors said his blood results were off the chart, so he must’ve been very strong to have kept going through it all.”

AML is a type of blood cancer which can affect anyone of any age. The word ‘acute’ in the name indicates that the disease may progress very quickly, and usually requires immediate treatment.

Common symptoms include fatigue, bruising or bleeding, and repeated infections. Other symptoms can include feeling weak or breathless, fever or night sweats, and bone or joint pain. 

Rebecca and Jo have so far raised over £12,000 for charity Leukaemia UK, and hope to raise more on World AML Day on Friday, 21 April with a sponsored litter pick throughout Pudsey. Visit this crowdfunding page to donate. 

The charity Leukaemia UK is calling on the public to help fund more research, which is desperately needed to stop the disease devastating lives in future. 

Fiona Hazell, Chief Executive of Leukaemia UK, said: ‘Important discoveries are happening all the time within leukaemia research. While survival rates in AML are still nowhere near where they should be and treating this disease remains difficult, at Leukaemia UK we know that we can help change this as research has the power to one day stop leukaemia devastating lives.'”

Rebecca and her mum, Jo, are now urging the public to be aware of the signs of leukaemia, and to visit their GP for a blood test if they experience any worrying symptoms such as fatigue, bruising or bleeding, or repeated infections. 

“It’s devastating because it’s so quick,” said Rebecca. “After dad passed away and we knew it was because of AML, we looked into it and found Leukaemia UK who fund research into this disease. They’re doing everything they can to make sure people don’t lose their loved ones like I lost my dad.”

“As with many diseases, earlier diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment,” said Fiona Hazell. “We want to encourage people to trust their instincts when something is wrong and visit their GP to push for that all important blood test, which is the only way to properly diagnose AML.’”

“He was an amazing dad,” said Rebecca. “I loved him to bits. The world is a darker place without him – he made the world a better place. We don’t want anyone to go through what my family has been through. It devastates lives. My world has changed forever.”

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