Harborough couple receive cancer diagnosis just four days before their wedding – now brave Rebecca vows to keep husband's memory alive

Inspirational Rebecca Dixon is pledging to take part in the annual iconic Race for Life to honour much-loved James’s memory along with the two little boys she never thought they’d have

By Red Williams
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 5:26 pm
Updated Friday, 27th May 2022, 6:33 pm
Rebecca Dixon from Market Harborough is doing this year's Race For Life at Stoneleigh in memory of her husband James who dies of kidney cancer in 2019. She is pictured with her sons Brody, 7, and Blake, 5. (Will Johnston Photography).
Rebecca Dixon from Market Harborough is doing this year's Race For Life at Stoneleigh in memory of her husband James who dies of kidney cancer in 2019. She is pictured with her sons Brody, 7, and Blake, 5. (Will Johnston Photography).

A brave Market Harborough mum whose husband was cruelly struck down by cancer just days before their wedding is vowing to do a special race every year to salute him.

Inspirational Rebecca Dixon, 41, is pledging to take part in the annual iconic Race for Life to honour much-loved James’s memory along with the two little boys she never thought they’d have.

“I might walk round it this time but, either way, we’ve decided we’re going to do it every year because we desperately want to keep his memory alive,” said Rebecca.

Her world came crashing down when her fiancé James was diagnosed with kidney cancer just four days before they got married in August 2013.

Despite years of gruelling medical treatment, James tragically died in October 2018 aged just 45.

He poignantly passed away just weeks after seeing his eldest son Brody start school for the first time.

But Rebecca said she is very grateful for the research that kept the love of her life alive and well long enough to enjoy the family the couple had dreamed of.

Rebecca and James on their wedding day

Proud sons Brody, seven, and Blake, five, will join their mum at Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life in Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire on Saturday June 18.

Calling themselves the ‘three B’s’, Rebecca (Bex), Brody and Blake are promising to enter Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life every year to raise funds to boost vital research.

The family are calling on people to compete in a local Cancer Research UK Race for Life event this summer to back the battle to beat cancer.

Less than a year after James’s death, in the summer of 2019, Rebecca amazingly won the Race for Life in Stoneleigh Park.

Blake, James, Rebecca and Brody Dixon

“Race for Life isn’t about winning but I was determined to make James proud that year,” said Rebecca, who runs her own hairdressing business.

“Those extra years were so precious to us and they wouldn’t have been possible without research.

“That’s why I want to do everything I can to support Cancer Research UK’s work and enable more families to stay together.”

Resilient Rebecca vividly recalls the moment she was told James had a tumour on his kidney.

“I was picking up my wedding dress with my mum when he called me from the hospital to say he needed a CT scan.

“We picked him up from hospital and that’s when he told me they’d found a tumour on his kidney.

“My legs just went,” said the mum-of-two.

“It was a whirlwind of appointments and scans after that but we held on to the fact that they didn’t think it had spread.”

The couple went ahead with the wedding and James had surgery to remove his kidney shortly afterwards.

“He recovered really well and I couldn’t have been prouder.

“We amazingly got pregnant with Brody soon after but then, nine weeks into the pregnancy, we were told the cancer had spread to his lungs.

“That was a really tricky time for us - not knowing if he’d be around to see Brody’s birth, let alone play an active part in his life.

“He had some pretty well periods but the treatments had some serious side effects,” said Rebecca.

“He lost four stone at one stage but he just got on with it and that’s how I’ve tried to be with my grief.

“He was so stoic and brave.

“I’ve just tried to get on with it and live the life that he’s not able to.

“For him to have kept going for nearly five years with metastatic renal cancer is pretty amazing.

“We’ve got to have hope that, in future, the research and the drugs will be there for others.

“Research is key.

“We’ve got to keep pushing forwards,” insisted Rebecca.

“James always used to say to me, ‘if I can stay one step ahead of the next drug then I can stay alive’.

“But it’s not always as simple as that because sometimes the drugs make you just as unwell as the cancer.

“That’s why I’m so passionate about events like Race for Life.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring series of 3k, 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events.

They generate millions of pounds for world class research to help defeat 200 types of cancer – including bowel cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, testicular cancer, brain cancer, children’s cancers and leukaemia.

Paula Young, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in the East Midlands, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Rebecca and her boys for their support.

“Sadly, cancer affects all of us in some way.

“Whether people are living with cancer, taking part in honour of or in memory of a loved one with cancer, or signing up to protect their own children’s future, everyone has a reason to Race for Life.

“So we’re asking people across the region: ‘Who will you race for?’

“Our Race for Life events are open to all,” said Paula.

“For some people, the Race for Life is literally a walk in the park. “Slow and steady still wins.

“For others, it’s a jog.

Others may push themselves harder, taking up the challenge of the 10K distance.”

To enter Race for Life, visit raceforlife.org

Regional Race for Life events this summer

Sunday, May 29 – Loughborough town centre (5k)

Saturday, June 18 – Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire (5k, 10k & Pretty Muddy)

Saturday, July 23 – Abington Park, Northampton (Pretty Muddy)

Sunday, July 24 – Victoria Park, Leicester (3k, 5k & 10k)

Sunday, July 24 – Abington Park, Northampton (3k, 5k & 10k)