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‘He didn’t deserve this’ – Ipswich roofer, 66, dies after becoming fourth family member to have cancer

PUBLISHED: 16:58 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:34 16 July 2020

Nigel French with his niece Krystle Santos. Picture: FRENCH FAMILY

Nigel French with his niece Krystle Santos. Picture: FRENCH FAMILY

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A ‘one in a million’ Ipswich family of eight siblings have suffered a tragedy after their brother lost his battle with brain cancer.

Mia was inspired to take on the charity challenge after four members of her family were diagnosed with brain cancer. Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDMia was inspired to take on the charity challenge after four members of her family were diagnosed with brain cancer. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Nigel French grew up in Ipswich with one brother and six sisters, and it was his tight-knit family who were by his side caring for him as he battled cancer for the last two years.

The 66-year-old passed away at home on March 30, after his condition deteriorated in the final five months of his chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Karen Santos, Nigel’s youngest sister, was with him when he was diagnosed in 2018 and has suffered seeing her sister Susan and daughter Jazelle battle the illness, as well as losing her father Cyril to it some years ago.

Today (July 15) Karen’s granddaughter Mia, aged 10, bravely decided she wanted to have her hair cut off for The Little Princess Trust to make wigs for sick young people in honour of her great uncle Nigel, great grandfather Cyril and aunt Jazelle.

Nigel French with his youngest sister Karen. Picture: FRENCH FAMILYNigel French with his youngest sister Karen. Picture: FRENCH FAMILY

Jazelle, aged 27, has had to postpone her wedding twice due to Covid-19 and her cancer treatment has been delayed due to the risk of catching the virus in hospital with her immune system already vulnerable.

Susan has now reached 10 years cancer free as her tumour was benign.

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“The cancer is not hereditary according to the doctors,” Karen explained. “It has been different types of cancer each time and the doctor said – and I’ll never forget his words – it is just ‘unfortunate’.

Nigel French with his mother Joyce, father Cyril and seven siblings. Picture: FRENCH FAMILYNigel French with his mother Joyce, father Cyril and seven siblings. Picture: FRENCH FAMILY

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“Our father instilled family first in us all so it was a big loss when Nigel passed, he was a good soul, they broke the mould when they made him and he didn’t deserve this.”

The whole family had stepped in to care for Nigel together when he became ill and they suffered six long weeks waiting for funeral restrictions on guests to be eased so all of the siblings could attend a ceremony.

Working as a roofer from the age of 15, Nigel retired at 60 after having a double hip replacement and enjoyed reading books, learning about history and was a staunch Ipswich Town supporter, as well as being a talented player himself.

Mia Fleming aged 10, had 12 inches of her hair cut off for The Little Princess Trust in honour of her family.  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDMia Fleming aged 10, had 12 inches of her hair cut off for The Little Princess Trust in honour of her family. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Karen said the hardest part of his illness was coming home to tell their mother his diagnosis after their father’s tragic death.

She added: “It is lovely having such a big family, we’re very close and we did him proud all looking after him – it’s a one in a million family.”

Mia’s haircut took place at Ebony and Ivory hairdressers this morning where she lost 12 inches of her long tresses.

Her mum Krystle said the experience ended up being quite emotional and overwhelming when they saw the hair come off, but within hours Mia had received so much good feedback from friends and family she was thrilled.

“There was a lot of excitement,” Krystle added. “The hairdressers opened up a back room for us so it was nice and private.

“The whole cut took over an hour and a half and now she looks so grown up.”

Mia raised a total of £1,625 for the charity and her grandmother Karen added: “We are all so proud of and I know Nigel will be looking down on her.”

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