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Norwich pub boost back safe and sound from African adventure

PUBLISHED: 10:00 03 November 2010 | UPDATED: 11:17 03 November 2010

Breast cancer survivor Jason Leech with his wife Rachel.
picture by Adrian Judd
for EN

Breast cancer survivor Jason Leech with his wife Rachel. picture by Adrian Judd for EN

copyright of Archant © 2010 01603 772434

A woman whose husband has been struck down with incurable cancer has returned from an eventful struggle to reach the summit of Africa's highest peak to raise money to help others.

Jason Leech, 43, should have been climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at the end of last month, but his illness meant that his wife Rachel had to take his place on the climb in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness instead.

Mrs Leech, manager of the Hog In Armour pub in Norwich, started her adventure on October 22 and completed four days of climbing before being struck down with hypothermia just hours before starting the climb to the summit.

And worse was to come when the outer tent that Mrs Leech, who celebrated her 37th birthday on the same day, was recuperating in was blown off the side of the mountain in bad weather.

She said: “It was an amazing experience, but one I would rather not repeat. I made it to the final stage and got hypothermia on my birthday so couldn’t actually climb the summit.

“Then I had to be put in a mess tent. They made another tent inside the mess tent because it was bad weather and it ended up going off the side of the mountain. I was asleep at the time, heard shouting and realised something had gone wrong, then a medic came in to find out if I was Ok. It was pretty frightening.”

Mrs Leech, who returned to the country on Sunday on what was her first wedding anniversary, said she was disappointed not to have reached the summit, but added that the climb has so far helped raise £5,600 for Breast Cancer Awareness.

She said: “It’s very mixed emotions. I did 4,600 metres which is the same height as Ben Nevis, so I’m quite proud of myself. “It was well worth it and well worth doing, but I wouldn’t do it again.”

Mr Leech, who could not fly out with his wife due to a recent operation on his lungs, was waiting at Heathrow Airport for his wife for what was an emotional reunion.

He said: “I had a bunch of lilies that she wanted and a brandy coffee. It was quite emotional. She did it, brave girl. I don’t think I would’ve done it to be honest. I’m very proud.”

Mr Leech, who lives at Bramerton, near Norwich, had one of his breasts removed after the small lumps under his arms and bigger lump under his nipple were diagnosed as breast cancer in 2004.

He endured chemotherapy and radiotherapy following the discovery and appeared to be on the mend, but last year was given the devastating news it had returned. He has started another bout of chemotherapy to try and keep the disease at bay.

Are you battling a terminal illness? Contact Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk.

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