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Family of Diss High School student Asha Patel thank supporters after cancer diagnosis





The father of a teenage Diss High School student, who is battling cancer, has thanked the community for their support.

Asha Patel is undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that affects the lymphatic system in the body.

The 16-year-old’s father, Jayesh, said the diagnosis had been a devastating blow to the family, who live in Bressingham.

Asha and Jayesh Patel. Picture submitted
Asha and Jayesh Patel. Picture submitted

He said: “It came out of the blue in early February. Asha went to bed one night but came to us at about 9pm, saying she had a lump on her collar bone near her shoulder blade.

“At first, we thought she had been bitten by something but, as it did not go away for a day or two, we went to Diss Surgery and they then sent us to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.”

Doctors believed Asha had an infection, but also arranged for her to undergo a biopsy.

At the same time, Mr Patel was admitted to hospital for two and a half weeks with a bout of severe colitis – an inflammation of the colon – which he has suffered from for around 10 years.

When he was eventually discharged, the severity of Asha’s illness was laid bare.

He said: “Asha had been sent for a positron emission tomography (PET) scan in Colchester.

“When we went back and saw the consultant, they pulled up her scan showing all these black marks – it was the most heartbreaking moment I have experienced in my life.”

Asha Patel. Picture submitted
Asha Patel. Picture submitted

The scan showed the presence of cancer cells in Asha’s lymph glands – and that it has already spread to her lungs and spleen.

Although the cancer is at stage four, doctors have told the family that there is a 90 per cent chance of a cure.

“Asha, her brother Aadi and sister Priya lost their mum, Caroline, suddenly five years ago, so with this on top, you start to wonder if maybe I did something wrong in a previous life,” said Mr Patel.

“It just seems a bit relentless as they have all been through a lot – but we are trying to keep our heads high and be as positive as we can be.”

Mr Patel, who runs Dabbawalla Kitchen, an Indian street food truck business, praised his daughter for remaining so strong through what has been a traumatic experience.

“She is amazing and one of the nicest people you will meet,” he said. “She is always upbeat, which is tough given what she has been through.”

A fundraising page set up by a family friend has raised more than £4,000 to help the family – a figure which has overwhelmed Mr Patel and his wife, Karen.

“We see ourselves as community helpers rather than people that need help, but the amount people have given is just incredible – it is touching and humbling,” he said.

“I would like to give a massive thank you to everyone, and to the NHS, which I cannot praise highly enough. We are so lucky to have it.

“I’d also like to thanks Stephen John, in Bury St Edmunds, who is doing Asha’s wigs, as her hair will soon fall out due to the treatment. He is such a lovely guy.

“After getting bad news like this, it is just nice to know there are people out there who want to help in any way they can. Thank you doesn’t seem enough for all the support and good wishes we have received.”

To donate, go online to GoFundMe and search ‘For Our Asha’.



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