Woman admits she left her boyfriend because his cancer battle was damaging her mental health
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A woman has confessed that she left her ex-boyfriend because she couldn't cope with his cancer battle - and now she's running the London Marathon for him.
Danielle Epstein's ex-boyfriend, Jelle Fresen, was diagnosed with grade 4 medulloblastoma back in September 2022.
When Jelle started suffering from dizzy spells and vomiting, he decided to get a check-up, only for doctors to tell him he had an incredibly rare tumour.
While in surgery to get the tumour looked at, Jelle suffered nerve damage which resulted in palsy to the right side of his face, and a squint which causes double-vision.
He also can’t fully close his eye and must use eye drops and ointments constantly. He has also had to re-learn how to walk again, as well as undergo both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
While watching Jelle go through the traumatic experience, Danielle suffered from panic attacks and her mental health plummeted - so they split up.
"We were on a certain path to a certain future and within one day we knew it wasn’t going to work out like that anymore," said Danielle.
"I was so worried and devastated, I couldn’t sleep or eat.
"I was having panic attacks and was on so much medication to sort myself out I just couldn’t function."
So, Danielle moved to Thailand with her dad.
But she always kept in touch with Jelle and felt incredibly guilty about her decision.
“I still love Jelle deeply and want to support him, but I came to realise I couldn’t stay with him as his partner," said the physics teacher.
"I felt like the most awful person, leaving somebody because they have cancer but it was damaging my mental health and it wasn’t helping Jelle.
"We’re still figuring things out and finding ways to continue our relationship as friends. Our whole lives came out from under us."
Now, Danielle is back home and getting ready to run the London marathon on Sunday in Jelle's name for Brain Tumour Research.
“The UK is not a developing nation; we should be scientifically innovative, but treatments haven’t changed in decades and we seem to be behind other countries and the advances they have made," she said.
"We desperately need more research and trials to develop better treatments.
"I felt so helpless watching all this unfold, so I knew I had to do something."
While Danielle isn't a runner, she thought it would be a great tribute to her ex-boyfriend, who'd ran a few marathons before his diagnosis.
"I won’t be fast, but I’m determined to get round," she insisted.
"Training has been tough physically and mentally, just keeping going when you’re so bored is challenging.
"But I have the best motivation; if Jelle can go through all of this then I can run a marathon.”
And Jelle has confirmed he'll be there on the day to cheer Danielle on.
"When she said she was going to do a marathon, I must admit I had my doubts," he shared.
"I think she only did about 5km when we were together and that was with a lot of complaining.
"I’ve got so much respect for her discipline and perseverance.”
You can donate to Danielle and Jelle's cause here.