The sons of a hugely popular mum have paid a moving tribute after her death from cancer. Jayne Fallas, 56, died just days after her diagnosis.
The Llandough Primary School teaching assistant was a much-loved figure in her home village of Wenvoe in the Vale of Glamorgan. Heartbroken family and friends have raised over £12,000 for Cancer Research Wales in his memory with a bike ride through Wales take place this summer.
“Everyone I spoke to said my mother’s smile would light up a room,” her son Dimitri said. “She was so caring and loving, and she never had a bad word to say about anyone. I’m 28 but I still called my mom to chat on the way to work and when I had lunch. She was my world .”
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Jayne died on December 6, leaving behind her husband Bassam and sons Michael and Dimitri. His funeral was held on Christmas Eve, attended by 157 people. “For so many people to show up for Christmas, it was just mind-blowing,” Dimitri said. “It shows what kind of person she was.”
Bassam, originally from Palestine, met Jayne in 1985 at a restaurant called Luigi’s while on vacation in Cardiff. Michael, 32, said: “The Palestinians didn’t have the best reputation in the world and times weren’t like they are today. When he met my mother, he was afraid that she would not like him or avoid him because of his background. , so he told her a little dirty. He said his name was Bebe and he was from Italy. Obviously my father couldn’t continue this charade and with great trepidation he admitted the truth to my mother about his real name and where he really has been since.”
The revelation was “like water off a duck’s back” for Jayne, Michael said. “She saw my father without prejudice but as the incredible person he is. That’s exactly how she saw everyone she would meet in life. She was a woman ahead of her time. “
The couple married six months after meeting and, after a period in Jerusalem, they settled in Wenvoe. Dimitri recalls his mother being endlessly devoted to him and Michael as they grew up.
“My mum was on the sidelines every Saturday morning watching me play football with my brother,” he added. “Everyone remembers that whatever the weather, whether it was raining or snowing, my mother was always there.
“She loved football and watching Man Utd. We always took time as a family to be together and watch their games. One of the things that disgusts me is that I never took my mum to a game at Old Trafford, but I think she enjoyed watching the games in her own comfort with her family and a cup of tea.”
Jayne overcame breast cancer after being diagnosed in 2017. Dimitri said it was inspiring to watch her stay positive as she underwent chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy. After 18 months of treatment, she was cured of cancer.
“The way she took the diagnosis and said ‘let’s go’ was absolutely amazing,” Dimitri added. “She lost all her hair from the treatment and didn’t care. She was as strong as a bull. The next four years we spent with her were the most special as we cherished every moment.”
Jayne had back pain for six weeks towards the end of last year. His GP suspected it was a herniated disc. But in late November, an MRI showed the pain was caused by bone cancer.
“We were told it was not curable but treatments could manage and control it,” Dimitri said. “My mom couldn’t wait to go. She was ready to do it all over again. Her attitude was breathtaking.”
Dimitri drove his mum to Velindre Cancer Center in Cardiff on Friday December 3, believing she could go home and start a course of chemotherapy that month. He said: “It’s so hard for me to process, even to this day, that I’ve never brought it home.
“We were with her on Saturday and Sunday, and her health deteriorated dramatically. It was like she knew she wasn’t going to be able to fight it off. She was turning yellow and could barely speak, but she had I still have the strength to say have a good Christmas. She was telling me to have a good birthday because mine is New Year’s Day. I was like, ‘How can I have a good birthday without you?’
“Physically I couldn’t be there when she died on Monday, but I was there on Sunday. I told her I loved her, I kissed her and I said I had to leave her. It was my goodbye to my mother. We all have our heroes in life, and for some people it may be a sportsman or a celebrity, but mine was my mother.”
Jayne was a teaching assistant at several schools but spent her final year at Llandough Primary School, which installed a planter in her memory. “The impact she’s had there in just one year is incredible,” Dimitri said. “She loved working with children. In this last job, she worked with a boy with autism, and she helped him grow into this amazing little boy. He became so confident. When my mother passed away, his parents were devastated. Just reading the card they sent made me cry.”
Dimitri and Michael are among 20 relatives of Jayne who will cycle through Wales – 220 miles from Holyhead to Penarth – in July. The campaign has so far raised £12,280 for Cancer Research Wales. You can donate here.
“I know if my mom looked down now, she’d be proud,” Dimitri said. “I feel like what we’re doing helps him live.”