The tragic loss of a vital young woman and mum of two from Epworth had a profound effect on the Isle community. But one year on, the extensive network of Anna Verrico’s family and friends have formed a legacy of which she could be proud.
Anna’s determined fight against a late diagnosis of a virulent form of breast cancer sparked mass fundraising support for treatment, spearheaded by Anna’s husband Paul.
At one stage Paul launched a public battle with medical insurers and politicians via social media website Twitter, in a bid to get his sick wife new medication.
But his efforts could not stem the aggressive spread of the disease and 36-year old Anna died in Paul’s arms last November, leaving her children, Lucia, then aged three, and 16-months old Alessandro.
Hundreds turned out for her funeral at Epworth, followed by a memorial service at Glanford Park, home of Scunthorpe United.
In January this year, Paul and Lucia collected a first Pride of the Isle award, on Anna’s behalf, for the most inspirational person.
Paul recounts events of the last emotional year in his own words, on the next page, but the rippling effect of the courage shown by Anna and her family has been evident in each of the past months and weeks, as Isle folk responded to their example and rallied round to stamp TeamVerrico firmly on the map as a lasting charity and legacy.
Its mission is to support research into new treatments and ways of diagnosing responses to treatment of cancer, especially Triple Negative breast cancer, and investigate the challenges faced by long term survivors of the disease. Also to promote and protect the physical and mental health of sufferers and their families of particularly lethal medical conditions, especially Triple Negative Breast Cancer, in England and Wales, and to educate the general public in all areas relating to the disease.
Fundraising events that have taken place for the work of the new cancer charity are way too many to mention, but particular moments of note from the past 12 months include the formation of the Anna Verrico Half Marathon at Epworth, that saw huge support in September this year as people followed Anna’s own example and put their bodies to the test to link the community and raise cash.
In September 2013 Anna had been determined to complete the half-marathon, despite knowing that her cancer had returned almost a year after she was first diagnosed, She finished a one mile fun run arranged specifically for her. Along with money raised for Anna’s treatment, a total of £20,000 raised was donated to the University of Sheffield Cancer Research Unit. The foundations of TeamVerrico were laid.
Last month TeamVerrico announced the appointment of Professor Malcolm Reed, head of oncology at Sheffield University, as chief medical advisor to the charity that has so fair raised approximately £30,000.
A launch of the TeamVerrico charity was followed by a formal ball in July, to which Anna’s favourite American singer and poet Tom Kimmel contributed with additional special guests. There has been marked and continued support from Scunthorpe United’s club, players and mascot, with match tributes and collections, and sponsored fundraisers.
Anna and her children received an ovation from the crowd at Glanford Park when she and her children attended a game, just three days before she died on November 20, 2013.
Among the many tributes paid to the Verricos and those associated with TeamVerrico on what Paul labels his ‘sadiversary’ are the following from close friends:
Claire Buckel: “Four Verrico’s! One Almighty Tragedy!... In the depths of their despair - three Verrico’s inspire an entire community ‘to live’ ....beautiful!!
Sue Taylor, Boot camp coach and weight loss specialist: “Anna Verrico – beautiful inside and out. Never have I known someone with such courage. We miss her so much.”
Nicola Codd: “Anna Verrico- still beautiful, still brave, still courageous and will always be missed. You live on in your children Anna. Miss you x”
Lydia Rusling: “I think I could write a book about what Anna meant to me and her impact on my life! I’ve sent you my favourite picture of me and Anna.
“She looks so happy. I’m so grateful to have been a close friend and I’ll always admire Anna’s loyalty and determination. Miss her every day.”
l Fundraiser dates already fixed for TeamVerrico next year include March 15, major series assault course Bramham Park, June 13, Summer Ball, July 4, Wedding Walk - women and men to march in wedding dresses, and September 27 Anna Verrico half-marathon.