Jade Marsh: Iron Woman
At the age of 51, Dylan Toney was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND)
His symptoms began with a slurring of his voice and escalated after a fall, which resulted in Dylan cracking his skull.
During his 11-month illness, Dylan gradually lost all of his independence and was cared for by his 23-year-old daughter Jade Marsh. Jade took her dad to his appointments, did his shopping and dealt with his finances. Jade remembers the last two months of her dad’s life as being the most difficult time. ‘After the fall, dad needed a wheelchair and it became more difficult to understand what he said. The sparkle in his eyes started to disappear.’
During her dad’s illness, Jade and her mum relied on advice from St Michael’s 24-hour helpline and St Michael’s doctor Tony Blower. ‘Having the support was vital, it helped us keep dad living at home for as long as possible. Towards the end of his life, dad chose to go into the Hospice as an Inpatient; we wouldn’t have wanted him to be anywhere else. The kindness of the staff nurses has always stuck in my mind.’
St Michael’s Hospice also provided Jade with counselling and bereavement support. ‘The grieving process began right at the start when I knew dad’s diagnosis was terminal. After dad died, there was a big hole in my life, the phone stopped ringing and everything became very different.’
Jade had started fundraising soon after her dad’s diagnosis. ‘Perhaps, I thought if I raised enough money I would be able to help find a cure, so I did the London Marathon and raised over £2,000 for MND.’ Since then, Jade has embarked on various fundraising adventures. In the summer of 2014 she did a wing walk with her mum and raised £2,121, She has also completed a 418-foot abseil which raised a further £3,000.
Jade has set herself a challenge of completing 15 running events in 2015. So far she has completed seven half marathons, and is training for another four half marathons, two full marathons, an ultra (31-mile) marathon and in July her biggest challenge so far: the Outlaw Ironman, which involves a 2.4-mile open water swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and finishing off with a full marathon. Jade is training hard to prepare herself. ‘I had never even run before I started planning theses events, and I underestimated just what was involved. With the Ironman, you are allowed just 17 hours to finish the event with just 15 minutes breaks between each section.’ Jade hopes to rise over £10,000, which will be shared equally between St Michael’s Hospice and MND.
Jade, who is currently in her second year of nurse training has also returned to St Michael’s as a health care assistant. ‘Being a nurse is all I want to do and working alongside the doctors and nurses who cared for my dad has reinforced my desire to be a nurse. Perhaps one day I will be a qualified nurse at St Michael’s and I hope I can provide the quality of care for future patients that the Hospice staff gave to my dad.’
If you would like to support Jade or keep up with her fundraising progress, you can visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/JadeMarsh