Terminally ill cancer patient taking to skies in Spitfire

Marilla Colgan, terminally ill cancer patient, hopes to loo the loop in a Spitfire and raise ?10,000 for Addenbrookes' cancer research. EMN-150720-121331001

Marilla Colgan, terminally ill cancer patient, hopes to loo the loop in a Spitfire and raise ?10,000 for Addenbrookes' cancer research. EMN-150720-121331001

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A terminally ill cancer patient is to take to the skies in a wartime Spitfire fighter plane aged 69 in aid of cancer research at the hospital where she has been treated.

A terminally ill cancer patient is to take to the skies in a wartime Spitfire fighter plane aged 69 in aid of cancer research at the hospital where she has been treated.

Colorectal cancer patient, Marilla Colgan, 69, from Kirkby La Thorpe, is collecting sponsorship to raise £10,000 for cancer research at Addenbrooke’s Hospital when she flies in a Spitfire on Sunday August 16.

Marilla was first diagnosed with suspected cancer in 2013 while enjoying retirement in her home country of Ireland. Following diagnosis at her local hospital, her daughter, who lives in Linton, suggested Marilla be referred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Sadly, the oncology team found that the cancer had spread throughout her abdomen and Marilla was told she had just months to live.

In September 2013 Marilla returned to England to be close to the majority of her family in Lincolnshire while receiving palliative care at Addenbrooke’s, her closest specialist cancer unit. She received chemotherapy and radiotherapy to enhance her quality of life.

Never shy of a challenge, during her life Marilla has driven a seven and a half ton aid truck to Bosnia and built and piloted two light aircraft. Marilla hopes to fly once more, this time in a Spitfire from Duxford air museum over Addenbrooke’s on August 16, and will take control of the plane for take off and landing.

The flight experience had been bought by her family as a 70th birthday present, which Marilla will celebrate on August 3, but it was her idea to turn it into a fundraiser for Addenbrooke’s.

A mother of four, grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother of one, Marilla, said: “With the help of my ‘second family’ at Addenbrooke’s cancer unit, during chemotherapy and radiotherapy I still managed to have a quality of life. I was very fortunate to have met some inspirational characters and am eternally grateful for all the care I had from the wonderful staff. I look on my demise as my final adventure, but I’m planning just one more before then.

“If I am well enough I hope the Spitfire will do a loop at a safe height; colostomy bag permitting! I want to raise heaps of money for cancer research at Addenbrooke’s. It’s too late for me but it’s not too late for others.”

Daughter Carla Jones of Bartlow, Cambridge, said: “She is gravely ill in Addenbrookes but in spite of this she is desperately trying to raise money for cancer services there. Addenbrookes also covers Lincolnshire patients.

“I cannot begin to tell you how brave she has been. She got her Private Pilot’s Licence from Cranwell Flying Club when in her thirties and wants to put the Spitfire as the last entry in her log book.”

She added: “She has led a very unconventional and colourful life, and her sense of humour still shines through despite the pain she is in.”

Michelle Gray, Head of Community Fundraising at Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust said: “We are so inspired by the challenge Marilla has set herself. She is a wonderfully determined lady and hopes to use her experience to help others. We are so very grateful that she has chosen to make a difference for patients at Addenbrooke’s and we wish her the best of luck.”

Should Marilla be unable to fly, she plans for the Spitfire flight experience to be auctioned with all proceeds going towards her fundraising target.

To find out more go to: www.act4addenbrookes.org.uk/supporter/SkystheLimit