OAP takes to the skies after battle with cancer

John Armstrong, 66, took to the skies in Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice’s Wing Walk alongside several other brave supporters, and has raised over £1,400 after a battle with jaw cancer.

John, from Swinton, was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw after a routine visit to the dentist for what he thought was an abscess.

John said “When I was going through my radiotherapy, I had real trouble doing it and found it very traumatic. Every day when I went in for treatment there was a little boy having radiotherapy too. His attitude was just so positive; I thought ‘Well if he can do it then so can I’”.

That little boy was Kasabian Newton Smith, 8, from Sheffield. Kas has Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer in children, and has just finished his 111th bout of radiotherapy, a gruelling treatment which started when he was only two years old.  His dad, Simon said “The day we met John, Kas was onto his 70th radiotherapy session and John was on his first. It’s a weird place to meet (at radiotherapy) but John is a wicked bloke, and we bonded straight away. John was shocked when he found out how long Kas had been getting treatment but Kas has never let it get him down – he’s always got a big smile on his face.”

After John got the all clear from his cancer six months ago he said “I was on Facebook one day when the Wing Walk for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice popped up. I thought to myself – what a wonderful way to put a little bit back, and to show my gratitude for the fantastic healthcare treatment I received.  I love flying of every description, and have been in a Tiger Moth, a hot air balloon and had glider lessons.  I’d never wing walked before though!”

John was the oldest Wing Walker for Bluebell Wood and was cheered on by Kas on the day. Kas also got to sit in the cockpit of the aeroplane.  His dad Simon said “Kas absolutely loved it. His face lit up as soon as he saw John climb into the aeroplane. I didn’t know what to say to John afterwards, but Kas ran off at 100mph to meet him and gave him a huge hug.”

Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice are planning another wing walk later in the year, which Simon is looking forward to taking part in. If you have been inspired by John’s story and want to sign up to our next event you can email Jo Berry at jo.berry@bluebellwood.org. John would encourage you to do so: “Just enjoy it! It was an amazing experience, it’s definitely one for the bucket list. And you couldn’t choose a better place to support than Bluebell Wood.”

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