Cancer sufferer's coffee morning

WHEN Caister mother-of-two Joan Sendall pours her coffee as part of a national campaign to raise money to help cancer sufferers she will be fully aware of the importance of her actions.

WHEN Caister mother-of-two Joan Sendall pours her coffee as part of a national campaign to raise money to help cancer sufferers she will be fully aware of the importance of her actions.

For in February 1996, she was given the news every woman dreads - that an X-ray at the James Paget Hospital had detected cancerous cells in her right breast and she would have to have it removed in a mastectomy operation.

And later this month Mrs Sendell will be taking part in The World's Biggest Coffee Morning fundraising event.

The 63-year-old had visited a mobile unit at Northgate Hospital for a routine check-up as part of a regular screening programme for the over 50s. But she received a call from radiographers at the Gorleston hospital asking her to attend for a second X-ray three days later, although they assured her there was no problem.


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And consultant Dr Jerome Pereira broke the news a lump had been found and she would need the operation.

Mrs Sendall said: “My reaction was just one of shock. I just wanted to shut myself away, but I had to tell my family and it is just the hardest thing to have to say to tell them you have got cancer.”

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At the time her daughters Alison and Lucy, now 35 and 32 respectively, were living in Nottingham where coincidentally the former was working as a radiographer at the Queen's Medical Centre at Nottingham Hospital, while her sister was at Nottingham University. So the girls' mother travelled up to see them with her husband Maurice, 62, to break the news.

Mrs Sendall said both daughters were upset about the news, but Alison was particularly tearful as she tended to show her emotions more.

Fortunately, the operation was successful and she did not need any further chemotherapy treatment. The lymph nodes in her arm showed no signs of the disease either and did not have to be removed. Her only subsequent treatment was a course of Tamoxifen to prevent the cancer spreading.

She said: “Once you get over it, it is not always the operation that affects you, it is the emotional side and having to come to terms with it. It is quite horrendous for the first few months and you get angry with what has happened. Then you get over it and you don't take life for granted anymore.”

The housewife, who lives with her husband in Saxon Gardens, has been fundraising for Macmillan for the last seven years and raised over £3,000 out of gratitude for the support she received when she was receiving treatment. She said a Macmillan nurse at the hospital would phone her at home to see how she was coping and generally keep an eye on her to make sure she was alright.

Cancer runs in her family: her father Leslie Houghton died from bowel cancer aged 64 while her paternal grandmother Alice Houghton also suffered from breast cancer as did two of her aunts.

Mrs Sendall will be joined by her friend Nora Pizer, who has helped organise the coffee morning at Caister Church Hall on September 26 between 10am and midday.

For more information and to register to hold or take part in The World's Biggest Coffee Morningm call 0845 6021246 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk/coffee.

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