An 84 year old great-grandmother, with only months to live, is set to hurl herself from an aircraft thousands of feet above ground to raise funds for the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.
The affectionately named ‘Ripcordrosa’ has been a patient of the Royal Marsden Hospital since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2013 and was recently told she has only a few months to live.
Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecological cancer. An estimated 7,000 women are diagnosed every year and fewer than 43% survive after five years compared with 85% with breast cancer. Experts put this down to late diagnosis of ovarian cancer cases.
Speaking to WeAreTheCity she said: “When I was diagnosed with cancer I was told I only had two months to live, but the Royal Marsden team were so wonderful they added two extra years to my life.”
In that time Rosa said she has seen her grandson get married, her granddaughter have her first baby, making her a great grandmother, her Australian granddaughter and grandson graduate from university and her daughter getting engaged to be married.
“Words cannot say how grateful I am. It’s been a wonderful gift from Professor Gore and his team and all the staff at the Royal Marsden,” she added.
Rosa explained how the idea came up: “I thought I can’t run something or swim, as I don’t have the energy, but I can do a tandem.
“I’ve got nothing to lose as I’ve only got a few months to live. If something happens whilst I’m up there, I’ll just get there a bit quicker! There’s no point in sitting down and crying about it. Take it from day to day and what will be will be.”
One of her daughters is Maryon Stewart, the UK wellness expert, author and broadcaster. When asked what her family thought of her idea to sky dive for charity she said: “My children said ‘great go for it mum!’ My grandson had spoken to his brother who had mentioned it and so he called me to say ‘I think my brother’s winding me up – you’re not really doing that are you grandma?’”
Rosa grew up during wartime in East London’s Forest Gate. She went to West Ham Secondary School, now known as Stratford Grammar, to later become a nurse and then a secretary after she married.
Rosa has been a member of the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons for 42 years which has raised funds for various charities. Her current title is Very Worshipful Brother Rosa Kingston, Past Grand Treasurer.
On supporting the Royal Marsden Hospital she said: “I’m really excited about the dive and hope I raise sufficient funds to help future research for this terminal illness to really make a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of other women long after I am gone.”
She continued: “If I can change something, I will fight tooth and nail for it. If I can’t then I will accept it. Every day since I was diagnosed I have still got up, got ready and gone about things. Every day is a bonus.
“I’d rather be very happily remembered instead of sadly missed.”
The sky dive will be taking place at Hinton Sky Diving Centre, Steane, Brackley, Northants, on Wednesday October 14th. You can support Rosa with a donation through her Just Giving page.
You can follow Rosa’s journey on Twitter @ripcordrosa and like Ripcordrosa on Facebook.