The Wilcox family from Southport will take on a 10-kilometre walk round Tatton Park this Autumn to thank The Christie in Manchester for the care and treatment given to dad, Jason Wilcox, age 46 who is battling 2 cancers.
Jason’s wife of 13 years, Jen Wilcox, age 46, who works with children with special educational needs and disabilities, will take on the annual Walk of Hope on Saturday 17 September with their two children Ella, age 12 and Harry age 9.
The Walk of Hope brings together families, friends and individuals to walk together in memory, celebration and solidarity through the beautiful grounds of Tatton Park in honour of the treatment and care provided by The Christie.
Jason, who is currently taking long-term sick leave from his role as assistant manager at Howdens Joinery, was diagnosed at Southport Hospital with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in December 2019 after a tennis ball sized lump appeared on his neck.
As he was being treated for that, a routine PET scan in May 2022 found a rare neuroendocrine tumour. Following treatment at The Christie, the non-Hodgkin lymphoma is now in remission, but treatment for the neuroendocrine tumour is continuing.
Jason started chemotherapy at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital but when that wasn’t proving to be effective, he was referred to The Christie in January 2021 for a highly specialist treatment called CAR-T therapy.
CAR-T involves removing immune cells called T-cells through a sample of the patient's blood. They are then reprogrammed in a laboratory to create cells that are genetically coded to recognise and destroy the patient's cancer cells. Jason was an inpatient at The Christie for 5 weeks during this treatment.
Then in September 2021, he joined a clinical trial for the drug epcoritamab.
Jason is currently waiting for a stem cell transplant which he hopes will take place shortly before or shortly after the Walk of Hope. This was delayed when Jason picked up a continuous cough after having COVID-19 in July and doctors are currently investigating this before the stem cell transplant can go ahead.
Since July 2022, Jason has also been having hormone therapy injections once a month to hopefully prevent his neuroendocrine tumour from getting bigger or spreading. The plan is to have this tumour surgically removed once he has recovered from the stem cell transplant.
The Wilcox family - (left to right) Jen, Harry, Ella and Jason
Speaking about his care at The Christie, Jason said: “I have always felt like the staff all really care about me. Everyone is friendly and approachable, during the good times and bad. It is good to know that I’m in the best place with all the resources under the same roof. The doctors and nurses are some of the best in the world and I couldn’t ask for more.”
His wife, Jen added: “Jason has spent the last 20 months receiving the very best care and support from The Christie. His team have been a tremendous support and we have felt so well looked after.
“The overwhelming feeling you get is they care, and they want to do their best for every single patient. But unless you have seen that up close you don’t realise how much The Christie does for people with cancer and how much they rely on the fundraising that The Christie charity does.
“We like to get out and about as much as possible as a family and have a dog who keeps us active, however, Jason isn’t able to walk as far as he used to due to all the treatment he’s had.
“After everything that has been done for us, we wanted to do something as a family to support The Christie and The Walk of Hope seemed like an ideal opportunity. It’s family-friendly and sounds like it’ll be a wonderful evening whilst raising money for a very worthy cause. It’s unlikely that Jason will be able to complete the walk, however, he will be there to cheer us on.”
Abbie Wicks, sporting events officer from The Christie charity, said: “We are very grateful to Jason, Jen, Ella and Harry for signing up to the Walk of Hope this year and for the fundraising they have already done to support our cancer patients.
“The Walk of Hope is one of our most emotional and inspirational events each year with so many people walking in memory, walking in support or walking in hope.
“Before the walk begins, we have lantern decorating, face painting and live entertainment. This is followed by a peaceful dove release to start the walk. After taking in the stunning scenery of Tatton Park, the evening will finish with a chorus of live music.”