Tributes to ‘amazing’ mother Hannah Reynolds, who lived her life to the full despite cancer diagnosis
PUBLISHED: 11:30 20 January 2015 | UPDATED: 11:30 20 January 2015
Tributes have been paid to an “amazing” Suffolk mother-of-two who has died from a brain tumour.
Hannah Reynolds repeatedly amazed medical experts with her sheer will to live and continued to lead a full and busy life for more than two-and-a-half years after a bleak prognosis.
Hannah, 49, who lived in Grundisburgh with her sons Jack, 25, and George, 20, was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer, in May 2012 and was told the tumour was inoperable.
Hannah, a fitness instructor at Martlesham Leisure Club and keen hockey player, was immediately forced to give up teaching her classes and her book keeping job at Woodhall Manor, near Woodbridge, as well as driving, as a result of the tumour affecting the right side of her body.
Hannah, who had attended Copleston High School in Ipswich, continued to live life to the full and constantly surprised her doctors who initially predicted she had less than 18 months to live.
Her elder son Jack said: “Mum suffered a massive fit 16 months ago when the tumour started to spread and we were told it was unlikely she would see Christmas 2013.
“She was given more chemotherapy and radiotherapy and in May last year she was told these treatments hadn’t worked and there were no more options available to her on the NHS.”
It was then that Hannah’s family discovered that the drug Avastin, which has been used in the UK to treat people suffering from some forms of cancer, including breast and bowel cancer, was being used in America to treat patients suffering from Hannah’s type of brain cancer.
Fortunately her medical insurance company agreed to finance a course of treatment and within a few weeks of taking the drug, her speech, mobility and quality of life improved enormously and allowed Hannah to make trips to France, Belgium and Germany during the summer.
Unfortunately the drug stopped working after six months and as her health began to deteriorate Hannah suffered a brain bleed in November.
Once again doctors warned Hannah’s family it was unlikely she would pull through, but she regained consciousness and was able to return to her care home at Alice Grange in Kesgrave in December where she remained until her death last Monday.
During her illness Hannah learned to write with her left hand, sang in several fundraising concerts performed by her choir, Upbeat, and attended weekly sessions at Headway and Sue Ryder in Ipswich.
She also received support as an out patient at St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich.
During Hannah’s illness an event organised by her friends raised £1,597 for St Elizabeth Hospice and £1,000 for brain tumour research. Hannah’s son Jack and three of his friends raised £1,500 for the hospice by walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall. The hospice also received £1,000 from Enterprise Rent-A-Car after Hannah’s goddaughter Anna Braybrooke nominated the hospice for a donation for the support it had given Hannah.
Jack, George, Hannah’s partner Andrew Cutting and her sisters Jane, Louise and Amelia said: “Hannah was an amazing person. She was always smiling and was determined to get on with her life and live every day to the full despite everything she was going through. Her doctors gave up trying to predict how long she had to live and when giving us bad news they would always add: ‘But you never know with Hannah!’
“She had an amazing group of friends who supported her from the outset and were there for her right to the end.”
“Hannah was fortunate that her medical insurance company was prepared to finance a course of Avastin which gave her a brilliant six months she would not otherwise have had,” they added.
Hannah’s funeral will take place at St Mary’s Church, Grundisburgh, on Friday, January 30 at 2.30pm. Instead of flowers her family are asking for donations to be made to Sue Ryder and Headway Suffolk c/o Farthing Singleton & Hastings Funeral Directors, Deben House, 650 Woodbridge Road, Ipswich IP4 4PW.