A woman who lost both a brother and a sister to cystic fibrosis is preparing to cycle 100 miles around a lake in the French Alps so she can “breathe for them”.
Francesca Eyre, 43, wants to raise money to help people with the illness, in which mucus builds up in the lungs and causes breathing difficulties, in memory of her sister Jo, who died aged just 15, and her brother Nick, who passed away at the age of 34.
She was inspired by sister Jo, who at the age of 11 cycled 25 miles to raise money for CF sufferers despite being barely able to breathe.
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Francesca, from Petworth, said: “I remember Jo being very poorly and everybody saying it will be too difficult for her. But she did it and raised over £100, which was a lot of money back then. This is why I do so much sport because my brother and sister never could. I’m breathing for them.”
The eldest of four, Francesca helped care for her siblings.
She said: “Growing up, I was very aware of it. Mum spent a lot of time away in hospital with Nick or Jo so I started cooking quite young and became a second mum for my brothers and sister. I would also give Jo and Nick their chest physiotherapy during lunchtimes at school. This helped to clear their airways of mucus and they needed it three times a day.”
After Jo died, Francesca moved to Ireland to train as a chef but returned when her mother was diagnosed with cancer.
She said: “Mum died when I was 21, which left me in charge to look after my two brothers. Nick, who was then nearly an adult, found it a lot harder to cope with cystic fibrosis as he was more aware of what’s happening.”
Francesca, a carrier of the CF gene, met future husband Paul after moving to Morzine in France to take up a catering job.
But the couple, who run ski chalet business Chilly Powder in Morzine, decided to try for children despite not knowing whether Paul was also a carrier of the faulty gene, and went on to have three healthy children.
The 100-mile Cyclo Tour du Lac Leman around Lake Geneva takes place from May 17-19. To take part as part of the Chilly Powder team, phone 020 7289 6958, email email@example.com or visit chillypowder.com