'˜Pure Gems' raise a glass to Luton's brave Gemma after messy mud race
It was smiles, laughter and mud galore for friends and family who braved a messy obstacle course in memory of a courageous Luton woman who battled cancer.
Jade O’Neill, 36, of Beechwood Road, along with her 28 determined chums, took part in the Bedford Pretty Muddy 5k on June 30 for Cancer Research UK.
The ladies were running after being inspired by Jade’s older sister, Gemma Avdullaj, who died from the disease on March 26 aged just 39, and are proud to have currently raised £11,315.
Jade said: “The race went really well. There were muddy swamps, rope walls, and we were crawling under ropes in mud - and that’s just to name a few obstacles!
“We had such a good giggle and the atmosphere was amazing; the best part was all of us raising a glass of bubbly and strawberries to Gemma.”
It was Gemma who had encouraged the team to enter, always donning pink lippy and wearing cancer awareness t-shirts after her diagnosis.
In 2016 Gemma had given birth to a baby boy at just 17 weeks who died. Sadly, soon after, it was thought Gemma had developed mastitis, but in May 2016 she was diagnosed with Inflammatory HER2+ metastatic breast cancer.
Despite treatment, the cancer spread to numerous organs and some of her bones.
Jade said: “The race was all very emotional to so many people, not just because of Gem, but because we’ve all been touched by cancer in some way -thinking of the people we’ve lost was pretty hard.
“Gemma would be so proud!
“She’d have laughed her head off at the state of us but she would be so proud.”
The friends, who call themselves ‘Pure Gems’, hope to carry on fundraising.