Caring Leanna launches plan to send terminally-ill best friend on one last holiday
AFTER her best friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Leanna Stratford decided to fundraise for one last special family trip.
Mother-of-three Jo Evans was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer in February 2015 and after three rounds of chemotherapy, the 53-year-old from Portsmouth has been given months to live.
Best friend Leanna has organised a fun day to raise money to send Jo on her last family holiday to her favourite place, Cyprus.
Leanna from Bedhampton said: ‘Jo truly deserves a holiday with her family as she has put up such a fight over the last three years.
‘I call her my mini rottweiler because she is fierce and takes everything head on.’
The women have been friends for a decade after meeting through mutual friends.
Leanna said: ‘We just became really close when we met and I decided last year to organise a fun day to raise money for her as the holiday insurance is so much and also raise awareness of breast cancer as well.’
The 45-year-old added: ‘What started as just friends and family getting together at a pub, has turned into over 250 people coming to the day full of stalls, raffles and tombolas all of which have been donated by people and some who don’t even know Jo.
‘It is completely amazing.’
Leanna started to organise the fun day last year but only told Jo about her plans three weeks ago.
Jo said: ‘What she is doing is amazing and when she told me I just cried.
‘It was such a shock.
‘Leanna is truly my best friend and I know she will always be there for me.’
Jo hopes her oncologist will clear her for the holiday.
The grandmother of seven said: ‘I really hope I can go with all my family and make some lovely memories.
‘Just a day to not focus on the treatments, injections and 26 tablets I have to take each day.’
Jo’s daughter Emma Amey believes she is ‘completely deserving’ of a treat.
The 34-year-old said: ‘My mum is an inspiring woman and has supported me my whole life.
‘She was there when I had three stillbirths and on my darkest days got me through.
‘She gives everything to everyone despite what she is going through and its amazing that all these people are giving her the chance to make some good memories with our family.’
Jo is going through another round of chemotherapy in a bid to make her strong enough for an operation to remove a cancerous cyst in her ovaries.
She said: ‘I have put up a big fight but I am tired now and I am in pain.
‘But I have the best support network around me and I would not have got this far without them.
Jo added: ‘I want to thank Leanna for everything she has done for me.
‘She is truly the bestest friend you could ask for.’
The fun day is on Sunday, January 28 at the Farmhouse Pub in Portsmouth from midday until 4pm.
For more information about the fun day email [email protected]