Nan with cancer wet herself while waiting 7 hours for help after tyre burst on motorway


A grandmother with cancer was forced to wait seven hours on the side of a dual carriageway after her car tyre burst on her way home from visiting her sons and the RAC didn’t show up.

Jen Rooke, 71, was unable to take her pain medication, had no water and even wet herself because the wait was so long.

Ms Rooke was travelling home to Harrogate, North Yorks, on the afternoon of August 17 after visiting her two sons in Clapham, south London – a journey which usually takes around six hours.

Her ordeal happened after the tyre burst on her Audi Q3 on the A4 while she was leaving the capital. After putting an initial call into the RAC, where she did not mention her cancer, she was told there would be a 90 minute wait for rescue.

She rang back after two hours to ask where they were but was given no real update on how long the wait would be.

Ms Rooke informed the RAC that she had cancer during the second call, saying she wasn’t able to take her pain medication on the roadside due to having no water or food to digest it with.

She rang the RAC a third time to plead with them but was still forced to wait. The gran said she was “in tears” and suffering a lot of pain during the horrific experience.

When they did finally arrive after 9pm, Ms Rooke was taken to a late-night garage to have her tyre replaced rather than RAC fixing it on the side of the road.

The grandma shells out £233 a year for RAC’s ‘peace of mind’ cover which includes roadside tyre replacement. But she was forced to pay out £138 for a new tyre at a garage in the middle of the night which she says has had to fight to get the RAC to pay back.

Instead, the motor breakdown service offered £100 in compensation for Ms Rooke’s long wait.

Ms Rooke was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019, had a 12-hour operation that September and started chemotherapy to save her life.

Her cancer sadly returned in June this year and doctors put her on hormone treatment to reduce its size – which is why she takes painkillers. She is due to start another round of chemotherapy in the coming weeks.

The motoring ordeal went from bad to worse as the former farmer needed a wee after waiting for so long and was conscious that her phone was running out of battery.

Ms Rooke left her car on the dual carriageway layby and trekked to a nearby housing estate, despite being in pain, to find a toilet. However, residents were fearful about letting someone into their home so she ended up wetting herself.

Ms Rooke added: “Since my cancer, my bladder isn’t fantastic. It was just dreadful. I never thought I’d be in that position.

“I visit my children in London quite a bit because I’ve got cancer – you’re told to get on and enjoy yourself.”

When somebody did turn up seven hours later, it wasn’t an official RAC van and the mechanic attending told her that he couldn’t fix her tyre. She was subsequently taken to a late-night garage they were about to drive past.

Ms Rooke’s phone had died by this point so she was unable to call her children as she waited aloe at the garage in the middle of the night.

She wound up shelling out for the cost of the tyre replacement and drove back to her son’s house as she couldn’t face a six hour journey after such a dreadful night.

She was outraged at the lack of help after paying for the “peace of mind cover” and claimed the RAC staff she spoke to “weren’t bothered” that she was not well nor that she had been kept waiting.

The following morning, Ms Rooke found her car’s electric doors had been tampered with and wouldn’t open. The RAC has taken “no responsibility” for the car doors, leaving Ms Rooke to have to climb into her car through the boot.

The RAC initially offered £50 in compensation but Ms Rooke challenged them to bump it up to £100.

An RAC spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry we couldn’t get there sooner. Unfortunately, we weren’t made aware that she was suffering with cancer, and needed to take medication, until several hours after she first called us.

“Had we known this earlier we would have prioritised her for faster attendance.

“We’ve reimbursed her for the new tyre and given her a gesture of goodwill to apologise for her experience which wasn’t up to our normal excellent service due to the extremely high number of breakdowns we were dealing with in the hot weather.”