In 2015 Tasha Trafford was pregnant with her son, Cooper. Twelve weeks into the pregnancy she was told that her Ewing sarcoma had returned. Tasha made the decision to continue with her pregnancy despite the need for further treatment to save or prolong her own life. Tasha planned Cooper's first birthday from her hospital bed, but sadly died on 12 November 2016 when Cooper was just 11 months old.
Tasha’s father, Dai, decided to take on the incredible challenge of the first Tri-Nations Charity Challenge to raise vital awareness and life-saving funds. The amazing team, set out to climb the iconic National Three Peaks, cycled from peak to peak and finished by walking across the length of Wales in just thirteen days.
In his own words, Dai, has shared Tasha’s story and why he decided to take in this phenomenal challenge.
Tasha was an A&E nurse, she was diagnosed with Ewing's May 2013 after presenting with severe back pain. It was never resolved other than prescribed drugs for back pain. Tasha paid to go private for a second opinion and an MRI showed a tumour in her spine. Her GP wouldn't investigate or refer her for a scan.
After investigation, the primary cancer was found in the right Scapula (shoulder blade). They operated to stabilise her spinal column and left the tumour because it was too vascular.
During the six-week post-surgery Tasha underwent IVF to secure three embryos. She then underwent nine gruelling months of chemotherapy as an inpatient which shrunk the primary tumour and after a short break, she underwent 60 treatments of radiotherapy. Following a PET Scan showing her disease was stable, she was told to carry on living a normal life, which gave her the green light to plant one of her embryos, which was successful despite all the treatments and the odds against it working.
12 weeks into her pregnancy, Tasha started to experience pain in her Scapula and was given the news that her cancer had returned. Tasha was faced with two options, continue with her chemotherapy which was needed to save or prolong her own life and terminate her pregnancy or stop the treatment and continue with her pregnancy.
Tasha made the decision to continue the pregnancy despite the need for further treatment. She had always known that her Ewing sarcoma was not curable but could be treated to prolong her life.
She continued to have an otherwise normal pregnancy notwithstanding the excruciating pain for which there was no safe medication for her to take. She tried alternative therapies for her pain with little or no effect.
Cooper was born by C-section at 36 weeks, a healthy 6lb 3oz baby boy on December 3rd 2015.
We spent Christmas together and in the new year, Tasha started to have chemotherapy day patient care on trial drugs which had no effect. The cancer had by now metastasised all over her bones and her right breast which led to her having a Mastectomy on a Friday and she left the hospital on the Saturday to attend Cooper's Christening on the Sunday.
During her illness, we packed in as much as possible, knowing that her outcome was not good. As time progressed her mobility became worse leaving her paralysed from the waist down, which made it impossible to care for Cooper. She planned Cooper's first birthday from her hospital bed at Ty Olwyn Hospice, but sadly died on 12 November 2016.
We decided to support the Bone Cancer Research Trust by doing a Tri-Nations Charity Challenge (TNCC). We set out to climb the National Three Peaks, Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, but this challenge was different because we cycled from peak to peak. Unfortunately, due to terrible weather conditions we were unable to climb Snowdon, however we continued with phase two of the challenge and walked the from Snowdon to Pen y Fan in South Wales. We gave ourselves just 13 days to complete the challenge! The team were greeted by friends and family in the severe weather and I was welcomed by a big hug from my grandson, Cooper.
We wanted to take on this challenge because of the lack of funding, it made me realise that more could and should be done!
As a family we had never heard of Ewing sarcoma which was the rare disease which took Tasha away from us. We need answers and a better understanding, and we live in hope that one day there will be answers because of research and the good work people do to raise funds and awareness of these rare forms of cancer.
This challenge needed to be big, demanding and enough to test a group of Ex Service Personnel who wanted to push themselves, also, to draw people's attention to it, it had to be something different from the run of the mill National Three Peaks which we always hear about on charity events, I think also, Ex Infanteers have a yearning to prove to the world that there's " lots of life in the old dog" and what better way to show it than taking on a challenge like the Tri-Nations Charity Challenge.
I always say that the distance isn't as important as the journey, this became quite apparent to me on the lonely roads from North to South Wales, for me, it gave me plenty of thinking space and provided me with peace and mindfulness to contemplate life and think about Natasha and her remarkable bravery.
The team that accompanied me we're all outstanding, all over the age of fifty, other than my Son Damien and one or two other team members, special thanks to my Sponsors CS & Flooring Solutions for providing our bespoke cycling kits and Select Car Leasing of Reading for providing our admin van, a valuable gift that we couldn't have done without, Ceri-ann (Body Ballance) for giving up two weeks of her time to support us and keep us all moving with massages and her expert advice on sporting injuries, she was particularly helpful to me and kept me on the road.
The general public, family and friends have all been fantastic, supporting us financially and offering kind words of encouragement, the whole planning and execution of TNCC was done in house with only Facebook as a means to advertise our plans and generate interest, a year in the planning and a bit of training saw us through the challenge, with very few problems.
We received incredible media assistance from Kris Kane of Fine Rolling Media, the grandson of Tony, one of the team, big thanks to Kris, who has done a fabulous job putting TNCC and the team on the media stage and providing a great tool to spread the word and push awareness of bone cancer.
Lastly big kudos to my team of warriors for enabling this challenge and on behalf of the whole team, big thanks to every last person that has helped raise almost £13,000.00 which will be put to good use.
If you have been inspired by Dai's story and want to raise funds for our life-saving work, please click below to request a free fundraising pack.