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Help Archie, Emma and James facing terminal cancer

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Please help ease the last weeks of James’s life by securing a future for his wife Emma and their 2 year old son Archie.

The family’s story

Emma and James met at a singles night – the first either had been to. James was first drawn to Emma’s sparkle – there was something about her that he wanted to know better. They had a similar background, both understood the challenges of dyslexia, and they felt comfortable together.  After the pain of James’s divorce, he’d dated briefly but Emma was the first person he dared to hope for a future with, and could imagine introducing to his mum. He says, “Emma gets me like nobody has ever got me. She understands my angst and insecurity and makes me feel at ease.”

They’ve had 5 years together, finding their feet in the relationship and gradually breaking down barriers to intimacy. Their happiest holiday together was two magical weeks exploring Thailand, but their regular dates usually involved days out taking picnics to National Trust properties. Emma says, “This is the first time ever I’ve felt well and truly happy. We are the most content we could ever have been.”

Finally managing to get pregnant brought James and Emma so much happiness, as they enjoy Archie’s company every day. Together they love cooking, gardening, camping, and introducing Archie to new places and people. He loves following James around as he fixes things, imitating the way he uses tools and puts extension leads away neatly.

Emma says, “I’m losing the person that I absolutely love, Archie and I are losing our home, and Archie’s losing all his stability. We always wanted to give him a little brother or sister, so I feel like I’m also losing that potential of another baby.”

James’s health

Pancreatic cancer shows no symptoms until it’s already spread, and James, who has always been strong and active and challenged himself with weekly Spartan workouts, never suspected he might have it. In June this year James began feeling unwell and started to lose weight rapidly. Weeks went by until he finally got the tests he needed, but they came with a devastating blow - it was cancer and it was in his pancreas, liver and lungs. As the tests continued the news got worse, it was stage 4, terminal pancreatic cancer.  

Without chemotherapy, James has been told he has 6 weeks to live, but undergoing chemo could give him 6-8 months if he’s lucky. However, he must maintain liver function in order to get through chemo, which is already exhausting him. The family are self-isolating to protect James’s immune system, while Emma cares for both James and Archie full time.


Although they’d hoped to wait and have a big wedding once Archie was old enough to understand the ceremony, this diagnosis brought home the importance of celebrating their love while they still could. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that they didn’t think a registrar would be able to marry them in between James’s appointments, and he wasn’t fit enough to travel to the Town Hall.

However, thanks to a fast track letter from their GP and a lot of support from the registry office, the hospital and their oncology nurse Charlie, with only 60 minutes’ notice on one of the hottest days of the year, they were able to tie the knot at the Horizon Centre. As a former hairdresser, Emma never expected to get married wearing no makeup, a bikini and sundress, but what shines through from the photos is their love and gratitude for each other.  

James’s priorities

James says he can’t get his head around the fact that he’ll never be able to go back to work. He explains, “Dyslexia has always been a battle, and I’ve had a lot of battles but have always been a grafter. I ran my own landscaping company for many years, then became a school caretaker and finally a site manager. This is just another battle. However, I always thought I’d be there for Emma and Archie, teaching him how to fix things himself and be a practical, helpful, diligent person. Instead all this will fall on Emma’s shoulders.”

Every day counts for James at the moment, particularly the time he spends with his son. Archie is a loving, cheeky 2 year old, who is incredibly physically active and learns more new words every day.

James says: “In three days’ time I’ll be 43, and I don’t know if I’ll have 6 weeks or 6 months left. This is not about me, but about our family.”

A new home

James is the caretaker and site manager of a primary school, and his job provides a house for them onsite. James has lived here for nine years and has renovated and transformed it into a family home. James is not only facing his own imminent death, but battling with anxiety because once he dies, Emma and Archie will become homeless. Emma will need support as she grieves and tries to keep things as regular as they can be for Archie.

What this fundraiser hopes to do

Any donations will go towards moving the family into a comfortable, secure, permanent home.

Emma has a 1 bedroom flat in Hove that she rents out with an interest-only buy-to-let mortgage, and so only has her deposit tied up in the flat. Emma would like to be able to move herself, Archie and James if he is able to stay at home under her care into this safe environment: it has a garden for Archie to play in and is close to the beach, so she could bring James down to sit by the seafront.

However, she would need to pay off quite a bit more of the mortgage to do this, as her present wages would not enable her to remortgage the flat or cover the cost of renting somewhere else – and due to owning this flat she wouldn’t be entitled to any state help. At the moment Emma won’t be able to afford the monthly cost of a mortgage to live in her flat, even if she works full time, when childcare costs are factored in.

James’ last wish before he passes is simply to ensure Emma and Archie will be all right financially, and able to stay in Brighton where their support network is, as they come to terms with their devastating loss.

We are hoping to raise money for Emma and Archie, to make their future somewhat easier with fewer financial worries, to help them either find another home or to help them afford the cost of living in Emma's flat. They would appreciate any help you can offer, and any donations will not only make a huge difference to Emma and Archie’s future, but will help give James peace of mind in his final weeks. 

Thank you in advance for any support you can offer the family.


  • Anonymous
    • £10 
    • 3 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Ben Vaudiaux Lowe
Emma Axcell-Roocroft

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