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Tami’s 10,000ft Jump for Dad and RUH

On Saturday 14th March Tamzyn Ovens, aged 21 from Calne, will be unleashing her inner daredevil to take on one of the most thrilling rides known to man. She will be launching herself from a plane amidst the clouds, to free-fall from 10,000ft in a tandem skydive for The Forever Friends appeal. Tami is most certainly fearless, but also extremely brave and selfless. She has a very special reason for skydiving – her dad, Mark Ovens. In June 2014 their family’s lives changed forever when Mark received the devastating news that he had cancer.

Tami will be skydiving to say thank you to staff at the Royal United Hospital in Bath for giving her family hope throughout her Dad’s ongoing treatment and to give something back to help others who may be affected by cancer in the future. She is fundraising for The Forever Friends Appeal’s RUH Cancer Care Campaign. Tami describes her Dad’s journey so far, the impact on her family and her decision to skydive:

“Early last year my dad, Mark fell ill. He was constantly nauseous and dizzy which caused a huge decrease in appetite and rapid weight loss, leaving him a shadow of his former self. We thought it was just a nasty inner ear infection…That was until he saw a doctor who sent him straight to the RUH for an emergency chest x-ray. This showed a shadow on his lung.

I still remember so vividly the call from my stepmum, Karen, who updated myself and my sister Tanya on their findings so far. I was just getting ready for a nightshift. I fell apart thinking the worst. Eventually I managed to compose myself and keep my hopes up that it wasn’t going to be the Big C.

Unfortunately, further tests showed my wonderful dad had a cancerous tumour on his lung, which had spread to his liver and his brain and even more devastatingly – it was incurable. ‘He’s only in his 50s’ I kept thinking. That day in June, it felt like the lives of myself and my family had just fallen apart. Would my dad ever walk me down the aisle? Would he ever meet his grandchildren?

Thanks to the brilliant doctors at the RUH, soon after the diagnosis my dad started a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and very quickly we saw a huge difference – especially in his appetite! After relying on nutritional shakes as his only form of ‘food’, he was now able to eat again. Even better, he suffered no side effects from the treatment and all of the tumours had shrunk a tremendous amount!

In November, my dad’s treatment had to be put on hold after he got an infection and went downhill fast. He was admitted to hospital and had to have a blood transfusion and IV antibiotics. Dad recently told me he has almost no recollection of his stay in hospital and this was no surprise to me – he was confused, dazed and just very very poorly. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see my big strong dad look so weak, vulnerable and fragile. We were all so scared the cancer had ‘got him’ so much sooner than we’d imagined, even though the tumors had shrunk. Thankfully he was well enough to be discharged a couple of days later and had a break from treatment and hospital appointments for the whole of last December – what an amazing Christmas present!”

Unfortunately at the time Tami wrote her family’s story (February 2015), and after her decision to skydive, her dad was re-admitted into hospital and discovered that new tumours has developed.

“In his latest oncologist appointment we discovered that the tumours in his lung and liver had grown and he also had a new one in his neck. It is so upsetting to have such a knock back after coming so far. Dad has just had the first of four sessions of a different chemotherapy drug which will hopefully work its magic just as well, if not better, than his first lot!

If it wasn’t for the wonderful team at the RUH, my dad may not be here today. They have been thoroughly supportive throughout to both my dad and family and have given us the hope we needed! I decided I wanted to give something back to not only say thank you, but also in a bid to help others who will be affected by cancer by helping raise funds for a brand new Cancer Centre at the Hospital – that’s why I decided to do a tandem skydive on 14th March. What better way to say thank you than jumping from a plane 10,000ft up in the air! I have received an overwhelming amount of support so far and can’t thank everyone who has sponsored me enough – my fundraising total currently stands around £800!”

The RUH Cancer Care Campaign is currently over half way to achieving its aim of raising £8.5 million, which will contribute vital funds to the building of a pioneering new Cancer Centre for the RoyalUnitedHospital in Bath.   Events Fundraiser for The Forever Friends Appeal, Laura Pearce, comments:  “The new Cancer Centre will transform the care of our patients and their families here at the RUH, like Tami’s – making them feel safe and supported at what is a very difficult time.  We wish Mark the very best with his ongoing treatment and can’t thank Tami for everything she is doing – what an inspiration!”

If you would like to sponsor Tami and support the RUH Cancer Care Campaign please visit her online fundraising page: www.doitforcharity.com/tami93

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