Leeds community rallies for '˜determined' Jason in ultra-rare cancer fight

A community is rallying together in support of an 'unbelievably determined' young man who is battling an ultra-rare form of cancer.

Jason Pepper and his girlfriend, Kirsty Nettleton.

Jason Pepper, from Belle Isle, was diagnosed in July with the Ewing’s Sarcoma childhood bone cancer, which is believed to affect just four adults in the UK every year.

Just six months on and after undergoing chemotherapy, doctors have now told Mr Pepper and his family the devastating news that the terminal cancer has spread and treatment will be ineffective.

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But, determined to give the sports-mad 26-year-old a send-off to remember, his friends and the community in south Leeds have come together to organise fundraisers next week to help his family during Mr Pepper’s final months.

UFC fighter Darren Till, Josh Millson and Stuart West visiting Jason Pepper in hospital.

The fundraisers will come just days after it was announced that Mr Pepper and his girlfriend, Kirsty Nettleton, are to get married in February.

His close friend Josh Millson has paid tribute to his pal’s determination and outlook in the face of his prognosis.

“When Jason was first diagnosed, they said he had a 15 per cent chance of survival, but to him that was 99 per cent.," he said.

“His outlook on life now is just unbelievable. It’s motivating watching how he has fought the battle. He is the most determined guy that I have ever known, by far.”

UFC fighter Darren Till, Josh Millson and Stuart West visiting Jason Pepper in hospital.

He described him as a “freak athlete”, who excelled at physical education at school.

The pair played rugby together at Hunslet Parkside Rugby Club, and also trained at the Syndrome mixed martial arts club in Beeston.

Mr Millson has organised a fundraising day for more than 300 attendees on February 10, at St Joseph's Catholic Club in Hunslet, to raise money for Mr Pepper’s wedding and other costs for the family over the next few months.

Mr Pepper, and his friends and family are now trying to raise awareness of the Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer to help others.

Alongside Mr Millson, Mr Pepper’s old school friends Vikki McShane, Sian Wright, Kayley Davidson and Robyn Wilkinson helped organise the fundraiser.

Community ‘comes together’ for fundraisers

Friend Josh Millson said the community in south Leeds had rallied together to raise funds for Mr Pepper.

He said: “Every shop and every local business in the community has backed him. It’s mad how the community has come together.”

* The first fundraiser will be held from 4pm on February 10, at St Joseph's Catholic Club, in Whitfield Avenue, Hunslet. It will feature raffles, auctions and activities.

* A fundraising gala and rugby match will then take place on February 11 from 1pm at Hunslet Parkside Rugby Club in Belle Isle.