Thursday, 29 October 2015

What Would You Do?

This morning I went over for a cuppa with a mum who lives near me. We had never actually met before today but had exchanged a few emails so I was not at all surprised to find that she was warm, honest and funny and within minutes of meeting we were sharing stories about our boys – their insistence on running around naked, their obsession with Lego, the time when Henry said the F word to the man from British Gas (no not that one, the fanny one). In many ways the chat on her sofa felt much like any other coffee or playdate (I mean that in a good way - those chats have become the underpinning of my daily survival as a parent; nothing beats a brew and a good moan!)

But this was not just another coffee or playdate. In fact, from the moment I met Jo this morning there was a gigantic elephant in the room and after chatting some more about motherhood it was time for me to invite the elephant into the conversation. I wish I hadn’t had to acknowledge him at all.

You see, Jo is dying.

I have typed and deleted dying several times in the writing of this post because it kept jumping out at me from my laptop as being too direct, too frank perhaps, yet I’ve re-typed it because it’s the reality. It’s a very difficult reality to process.

At 37, and a mummy to five-year-old Rudey, Jo is the only known person in the world to be suffering from not one but TWO terminal illnesses and she is dying.

How fucking unfair is that?

In April, Jo was given just weeks to live. Nearly seven months later and she is still here, chatting, smiling, wrapping her arms around her boy and pulling him in for a snuggle in the way only a mum can. Rudey, who chirpily wakes Jo up every day with his signing and says he loves his mummy ‘up to the castle at the top of the hill,’ remains her focus and motivation.
Jo is desperately ill but she has not been beaten thus far and after months of research has found a scientist in America who she believes can help. His approach in a nutshell is to run hundreds of tests and extensively study Jo very much as an individual case to try and get to the bottom of the root cause or causes of her illness.

Jo is determined to get to him, in fact she IS going to get to him and sets off for America next week where she will spend the best part of three months in Arizona. This is far from a holiday. As she is too poorly to fly she will be undertaking a mammoth 12 day voyage by boat, train, bus and taxi with best friend Sarah who has been heading up the Breathe for Jo campaign which aims to raise £70,000 to cover the cost of the trip (including tests, resulting treatments, travel and accommodation).

So that is why I am writing this post. Jo is asking for help. I’m going to be open with you because I have always pledged honesty on this blog and if you make a donation because you have read this post I want you to do so for the right reasons. Donations are not funding a miracle treatment. There is no guarantee that Jo’s trip to America will be a success. It could be fruitless.

But Jo wants to go. Jo has pinned her hopes on this trip, a trip she has admitted is her last chance to do something proactive in her fight to see her boy through more of primary school than just his first year. I’ve never truly understood the term ‘fighting spirit’ but I saw it today.
Rudey will fly out with family to join Jo when she has settled in Arizona so they can spend Christmas together. Despite knowing that his mummy is poorly, he is too young to appreciate what that means. When discussing the trip to America he has only really expressed two concerns:

1) Will there be a swimming pool?
2) Can he take his Lego?

Of course those are his concerns. He is five. His Mummy was told she wouldn’t make his 5th birthday but she did. She has been told she won’t make his 6th birthday. Maybe she won’t. But she wants to give this a shot and I would like to help her. I am sharing in case you would like to help her too.
There will be no endless plugging of fundraising appeals here on the blog and I am not going to ask you to donate in the same way I do not ask you to share my blogs – you will like and share only if you want to and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I went over to Jo’s for a cuppa because when somebody in your neighbourhood is dying it’s kind of instinctive to ask them if there is anything you can do. I am shit at making casseroles and as 300,000 people are mad enough to follow my ramblings about wonky-fringed Barbie tantrums (and the fucking pumpkin) I figured this is all I can do.


You can read more about Jo’s story and donate to the campaign here. Campaign video below.


  1. I am speechless. It's done. Good luck Jo x

  2. Such a beautiful video, good luck with your trip and your future treatment Jo, we're all behind you and your darling son xxx

  3. Heartbreaking x

  4. That video actually had me sobbing. I really hope the scientist can find a cause for your disease, Jo, and treat it. I don't really pray, but I really do pray that Rudey gets to grow up with his mummy.

  5. The lego crucified me!! As a mum to 4 children, 3 of which are boys, I really get the lego thing!!

  6. Gut wrenching. What an awful thing to live with while trying to keep it together for your child. Jo's friend Sarah is such an amazing friend and a true inspiration.

  7. I've followed Jo's story, and supported her in my own little way in FB, it's amazing how strong and determined she is to stay alive and get to Arizona for Rudy's sake.. I know she will succeed too! She's one tough cookie!
    Please share this EVERYWHERE, in the hope that at least she has a shot at finding the answer.. Keep the faith Jo! xxx

  8. What's amazing about her fight for life is that you can clearly see that fight is for her beautiful son. I will squeeze my boys a little tighter this morning, even I have already been up an hour and it's only half six ;) I wish her the best of luck x

  9. This is absolutely unfair, sickening and gut wrenching. No mother should ever have to face this and no child either. It makes me fucking angry and sad in equal measures! Money is nothing in these situations. She is getting some of mine. Love Heidi xxxx

  10. Replies

  11. I love how he's got two right feet shoes on! How lol its the norm in our house to wear shoes on the wrong feet, we dont judge on here :) donated and wishing her the best xx

  12. Crying as I read this....heartbreaking 😢

  13. I have a five year old boy. I can't imagine not seeing him grow up. I'm in...

  14. Prayers and love and thoughts with you Jo hope you get your miracle xxxx

  15. This is an amazing Blog xx
    I am also following Jo's story, she lives near me although we have never met. I have donated and am sharing endlessly on Facebook, not only on my own page but the groups I run also. What an amazing lady Jo is, I hope she gets the help she needs and we as warm hearted people can donate and share any information to help Jo along the way. Well done this blog is fantastic xx

  16. Open a GoFundMe page for Jo! I understand you would like people to donate for the right reason, but GoFundMe is a great way for people of Amy wealth, to pick who or what to donate for and how much. Also one can stay anonymous with their donation. Check it out.

  17. Will one of the pick hotel chains help with accommodation? Can it be shared with nbc?

  18. All of the above and more... I will share and donate xxx

  19. Happy Halloween Everyone.
    Ok, I'm Hoping To Do A Fund Raising Event For The Beautiful Jo Smith, As Most People Are Aware Jo Is Very Very Poorly, Right At This Minute Jo And Sarah Are Getting Ready For Their Trip To Arizona To Seek Very Important Medical Help, That Involving Lots Of Tests.
    Now Anyone That Can Help Me In Arranging A Great Fund Raising Event, Please Could You PM Me. Maybe A Band Or A Karaoke, Who Would Be So Kind To Donate Themselves For A Evening. Anyone Who Could Help With Flyers, Maybe A Buffet/Food, Decorations Etc, Anything.
    Please Lets Do Something To Help This Amazing Lady.
    Thank You All In Advance. I Will Be Messaging People Etc, So If Its A Bother To You Please Except My Apologies As I Will Find Something To Help Raise Funds.
    The Event Will Be Held In Exeter, Many Thanks x

  20. I am reading this in Sydney, Australia and I've donated through the tears. God, she's amazing. Fingers crossed.

  21. I really hope Jo gets better, but this guy isn't a real doctor - he is a dietician and body builder - from his website he "...plans to pursue a medical or naturopathic doctor license in the future" he has never went to med school, or is an expert in either of the diseases Jo is suffering from - i really hope it isn't a scam and Jo's hopes aren't shattered.

  22. Have you had an update on how Jo is doing?

  23. Unsurprisingly it all went wrong. The "doctor" Thomas Incledon was unable to do anything useful. They ran out of money and returned home. Since then there have been no real updates from the campaign's Facebook account.

    All a bit mysterious really. Must be heartbreaking. They raised went to Thailand for medical treatment, spent a few weeks there, and returned without a cure. Then they spent a few months in Arizona in the winter and returned without a cure.

    Such endless disappointments, but the public can always be relied upon to donate - not matter how far a way the cure seems to be. Perhaps there's a doctor in Australia who can help?

  24. Jo Smith do you believe you are dying i not why there a cure that might help if doctors hae to study a little sooner they know why haven't replace the old one can rebuild better