An “inspirational” single mother with terminal cancer was stunned when Kirstie Allsopp surprised her with a tea party.
The Location, Location, Location TV presenter welcomed Ann Sandeman, 45, and her three children with a spread of tea, cakes and crafts.
Both women have been deeply affected by cancer, with Kirstie’s 66-year-old mum losing a 26-year battle with the disease in 2014.
Ann, from Hastings, East Sussex, has been fighting breast cancer since she was pregnant with Ben, now eight. Even before Ben was born, Ann endured the first of seven rounds of chemotherapy.
Kirstie, 45, said: “I was asked to come here and surprise Ann by Cancer Research UK. She does loads of work to support them and raise awareness.
“Her story is remarkable, as are the stories of many, many people. You don’t often come across people like Ann. She’s energetic, she’s inspirational, she’s got three kids – we’ve all been here chatting and colouring and talking, and they’re absolutely amazing, her kids.”
Ann’s children, including 12-year-old Hannah and 10-year-old Emma, do not remember a time before she was ill.
Kirstie explained: “She has brought them up in the most amazing way, all the while having very invasive and exhausting treatments. And with a terminal diagnosis hanging over her head.”
Ann said she was totally surprised when Kirstie walked through the door, as she had been told only that she was taking part in the charity’s Stand Up To Cancer campaign.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it. It’s Kirstie! And she’s absolutely lovely, but I couldn’t believe it. It was almost very unreal, surreal… I had to keep pinching myself to think I’m actually sat here just chatting to Kirstie.”
The pair shared their experiences of the disease, with Kirstie opening up about her mother’s long fight.
She said: “For me, the shadow of cancer is that my mother died aged 66, my mother is not alive.
“My mother was not alive when my nieces were born, my brother’s child, my sister’s child. It was my birthday last Wednesday, I didn’t speak to my mother. That is there, for me that’s what cancer did.”
The two women called for people to get involved in fundraising – and not to be afraid to get checked for cancer.
Kirstie said: “You need to show people there is life after cancer, but also life within cancer.
“You can be suffering, you can have treatment and you can go on with your life.
“The fact that a huge number of people are first diagnosed with cancer in A&E is terrifying. There are people today who suspect they have cancer, and are too frightened to act on it because they think it is a death sentence. And it is not a death sentence. And that’s really, really important.
“If you think there’s something wrong with you, you have to seek treatment.”
Ann and her three children are planning to make the most of their time together.
She said: “We want to just carry on as best we can, we want to be having fun, we want to be making memories, and we want to carry on kicking cancer’s butt, really. That’s what we do.”
Ann and Kirstie are supporting Stand Up To Cancer, a joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 to accelerate new cancer treatments to patients and save more lives.
To get involved this October and help beat cancer sooner, visit standuptocancer.org.uk