Biggleswade woman to cut off 26 inches of hair for Thymic UK as cousin fights rare cancer

Support her at The Plough on Saturday

By Jo Robinson
Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 4:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 5:51 pm

A Biggleswade woman is waving goodbye to her long locks to raise funds for Thymic UK, as her cousin was struck by a rare cancer.

Katie Gentle, 30, will have 26 inches of hair chopped and shaved at a family fun day on Saturday, July 9, in The Plough, Langford - and the town is invited to come along and show support.

The challenge is to honour her three cousins, Josh Clifford and Rebecca Llewellyn, who are now cancer free and Sarah Crone, of Sandy, who is battling a rare cancer called Thymic Carcinoma.

Katie showing just how long her hair has grown, and right, brave Sarah with her daughter, Hannah, aged 11. Images: Katie Gentle and Sarah Crone.

Katie told the Chronicle: "I'm not particularly a physically fit person - I can't climb a mountain - but I'm really good at growing hair!

"I cut my hair really short in 2016 when I had my son, and later regretted it because I wanted it the same length again for my wedding.

"By the time I got married it was shoulder length, but my cousin Josh was going through his cancer treatment and I decided I had to do something, so I kept growing it."

Determined Katie hasn't cut her barnet for over four years now, a time frame which saw her two other cousins affected by cancer.

Katie's cousins Rebecca (pictured with daughter Tavia) and Josh have both fought and beaten cancer. Photos: Rebecca Llewellyn and Josh Clifford.

The kindhearted fundraiser is hoping the cut and head shave will generate £2,000 for Thymic UK, while her hair will be donated to The Little Princess Trust, which makes wigs for children fighting cancer or other conditions causing hair loss.

Katie said: "Cancer is affecting more and more people, younger people, and it doesn't discriminate.

"But we can't let it bog us down with fear. We can do something good by raising as much money as possible."

Katie's cousin, Josh, was diagnosed with Stage 2 testicular cancer in July 2017 that had spread to his lymph nodes and kidneys, while Rebecca has faced breast cancer twice in recent years.

Thankfully, both are now in the clear, but Katie's cousin Sarah - Rebecca's sister - is currently waiting for her last round of chemotherapy as she fights a rare cancer called Thymic Carcinoma.

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Sarah said: "I think it's amazing what Katie's doing and she's just really positive about organising this event.

"It will be great to talk to people on the day. It will be quite emotional but it will give me the opportunity to raise awareness."

Chronicle readers may remember Sarah, as she took part in a boxing match during December, raising £2,289 for Cancer Research UK.

However, unbeknownst to the sportswoman, she was about to take on her own fight with the disease.

The brave mum was diagnosed with Thymic Carcinoma this Spring, a type of cancer that develops in the cells that line the thymus gland. (This sits in your chest, in between your lungs).

Symptoms can include: chest pain, a cough that won’t go, shortness of breath, hoarseness of the voice.

Sarah would like to thank her family and friends - especially partner James Robertson - for their support.

At Katie's fun day in the The Plough there will be face painting, glitter tattoos, hair braiding, tombolas, a bake sale, and big ticket raffle prizes. There will also be a collection bucket for Macmillan.

The event starts at 2pm at Katie's hair cut will be cut around 3.30pm.