'Time is precious' - 'Selfless' mum Ria's harrowing battle with brain tumour aged just 29
PUBLISHED: 19:00 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:26 26 November 2019
A mum-of-two from Felixstowe has had her life turned upside down - after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer aged just 29.
Maria Collins, known as Ria, is mum to Katie, nine, and Lucas, eight. Originally from the Ipswich area, she now lives with her husband Chris and their children in a home they recently bought to do up and transform into a happy family home.
But tragedy struck this summer when Ria, who had no symptoms except for a few headaches, suddenly lost the use of her arm one afternoon.
"I just lost the use of my arm, and my speech went, so we went to the doctors and they got me an ambulance," she said.
"That's the last thing I can remember."
Doctors initially thought she had suffered a stroke, but the family were shocked when scans showed a mass in her brain.
Within a few weeks, Ria underwent brain surgery - only to be told once it was over that her cancer was actually stage four, and would be terminal.
"It's been so sudden, we've had to face everything all at once," said husband Chris, 41. "It's just snowballed along, we've just got to plough on through. We've told the kids what they need to know when they've needed to know, they've been really good.
"They know mummy's had some headaches, they know she's had her operations to do with the headaches."
The pair added: "It's life-changing. It's hard having to rely on so many other people. The plan we had with getting this place was to work, work, work to get it into shape. And we were suddenly having to stop and re-evaluate everything."
Now Ria's family and friends, which includes mum Michelle, sister Charlene and her best friend Rosie, are rallying around to raise money for the couple.
Facing regular 150-mile trips to Addenbrooke's, and with Ria now unable to drive, she is having to rely on family members to take them to regular medical appointments.
The 29-year-old is currently having several weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Ipswich Hospital.
Chris added: "This sort of thing makes you recognise how precious time is so it would be nice to also use the money to go 'right, we're going to take a few weekends away, little breaks away'."
How you can help Ria's family
Rosie, who said despite Ria going through the worst time of her life, her friend has stayed "the most selfless person" she knows, has set up a GoFundMe page aimed at collecting £3,000 for the family.
Donate via this link or visit www.gofundme.com/f/RaisingfundsforRia
A dedicated Facebook page has also been set up, called Raising funds for Ria.
Yasmin Osman, who works with Ria's mother Michelle at Jamie Cann House, is having her head shaved on Tuesday this week to raise money for the family.
Felixstowe's Ryan Gooding, star of Channel 4's The Circle, is also putting on a sold-out night with local psychics Stephanie Carr and Myra Brown at Kesgrave Social Club on December 16 at 7pm.
There are a variety of other fundraisers being held, visit the Facebook page above for further details.