Terminally ill Sunderland mum's final wish to see Strictly Come Dancing and make memories with daughters

Retired police detective Julie Jackson from Sunderland who suffers with a terminal illness
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

A woman's retirement bucket list has been whittled down to just two final wishes after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Julie Jackson, 59, believes she might not see her 60th birthday after being diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer which attacks the soft tissue and affects just 79 people a year in the UK. The retired police detective of 30 years received the heart-breaking diagnosis in March, just as she was about to embark on a series of once-in-a-lifetime trips that had already been cancelled once due to the Covid pandemic.

Now she has had to cancel her plans again after her consultant advised against travelling long distances. It has left her with just two bucket list dreams: to visit the Amalfi Coast with her two daughters Amanda, 26, and Jennifer, 29, and to see Strictly Come Dancing live from the BBC studio.

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Julie, from Roker, said: "I've got two daughters in their 20s and the most upsetting thing is, if the prognosis is right, I'm not going to be around to see them get married or have children. I would love to [visit the Amalfi Coast] and make more memories for them."

Julie hopes that consultants will allow her to travel to the Italian coastline between chemotherapy treatment, despite having to cancel her other travel plans to celebrate her retirement in Japan and travel to Canada in May to enjoy two days in Vancouver, before taking a train ride through the Rocky Mountains for her husband Mark's 60th birthday.

The mum-of-two added: "Two weeks before we were due to go my consultant said 'no, you can't fly that distance', so we had to cancel that. I felt so sorry because it was my husband's dream but because of me we couldn't do that. I was hoping next year for my 60th to go to the Amalfi Coast with my two daughters because I've never been. I'm hoping that because it's only a short flight I will be able to do the trip this year between rounds of chemo."

Julie received her diagnosis after she started to experience back pain and was sent to Newcastle's Freeman Hospital for a CT scan, where it was discovered that she had a shadow on her lung. "First of all they thought it was lung cancer", said Julie, who added that she has "never even lifted a cigarette".

But a lung biopsy revealed that Julie had synovial sarcoma, 18 years after receiving the all clear from breast cancer for the second time. She explained that there are two types of chemotherapy which can be used to treat the cancer. But she is unable to receive "the most effective one" due to already having chemotherapy when she had breast cancer in 2003 and 2006.

Retired police detective Julie Jackson from Sunderland who suffers with a terminal illness
Retired police detective Julie Jackson from Sunderland who suffers with a terminal illness -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

She believes this year could be her "last chance" to achieve her dream of seeing Strictly Come Dancing live after five years of trying to secure tickets by applying on the BBC website in the hope of being selected. In the hope of improving her chances she has also asked her friends to apply and allow her to have the tickets if they're chosen and don't want them.

Julie said: "The Strictly tickets are something that is achievable and it would mean the world for me to be able to go and experience it for myself. I think the tickets are given out free but I'd be willing to donate to a charity for the tickets. I'm not expecting freebies and I don't want a handout, I would just love to go and I can't believe how many people have been sharing it and being so kind to apply for the tickets.

"I've tried for years to get tickets to no avail and now I've been diagnosed with this terminal illness and it's probably my last chance to go this year. To be a part of the whole Strictly phenomenon and to actually be there in the studio when it's going out live is just something I would have liked to have been part of, rather than just watching it on the TV."

Julie said she featured in BBC's Our Cops up North in 2019, around six months before her retirement and would joke with colleagues that she was "going to be discovered" if the programme was shown on Channel 4's Gogglebox and it would be her "platform to get onto Strictly."

She added: "I've watched it since it started 20 years ago and I just love the whole experience. I love the costumes and the dancing and the makeup and the whole theatre of it, it's like a spectacle and it makes my Saturday nights. At the end of the 12 weeks I think what am I going to watch now? I look forward to it. I've always loved dancing and music."