Positive Rita raises spirits and funds

PUBLISHED: 09:46 04 December 2001 | UPDATED: 10:58 03 March 2010

THE night before New Year's Eve, the Woollard family were preparing for a big party.

But on that festive evening almost a year ago, mother-of-three Rita, secretly had a weight on her mind.

THE night before New Year's Eve, the Woollard family were preparing for a big party.

But on that festive evening almost a year ago, mother-of-three Rita, secretly had a weight on her mind.

She had discovered a lump on her breast, and feared it could be cancer.

"The word cancer is just so frightening. I had heard so many horror stories which really made me think," the 54-year-old said today, as she celebrates her recovery and raising £2,000 for cancer sufferers.

She added: "I just kept quiet and didn't tell a soul at first. I didn't want to spoil the party for everyone."

The cruel luck had struck just two years after Rita had been diagnosed with epilepsy, and she also suffers from the digestion illness Coeliac Disease.

She saw a doctor as soon as the bank holiday was over, and by early January she'd been into hospital to have a mammogram, an ultrasound scan and a biopsy.

But it wasn't until the lump was actually removed, that surgeons found the cancer.

Rita, of Colchester Road, Ipswich, said: "I'd had a biopsy and the result had come back saying there was a 99 per cent chance it wasn't cancer, so I was relieved at that stage.

"Then they found it actually was cancer, and I had to go back for a second operation to remove more tissue."

Her family of husband David, son Darren and daughters Hayley and Donna helped her cope with the emotional roller coaster she was thrown on to.

Breast cancer affects one in ten UK women at some point in their lives, and two of Rita's friends were also being treated for it at the same time.

She went through six months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radium treatment alongside them, and it finished in August this year.

Rita said: "After the first time it wasn't so bad– I got through it really well. My two friends who were having the same thing at the same time, found it worse than I did."

But she added: "My story has turned out to be a positive one, and I would advise any woman who is worried about a lump, to see a doctor as soon as possible.

"Things moved really quickly for me, once I'd told my GP, and the hospital staff were brilliant."

As soon as she felt better, Rita organised a disco and buffet at the St Clements Sports and Social Club, and tickets sold like hot cakes.

"It was amazing," said Rita. "One friend bought a block of 25 tickets in one go, and in the end, about 180 people came.

"We had 40 draw prizes donated by family and friends. My children bought the top prize of a CD player. People just kept lifting the lid of the cash tin and putting notes in.

"It was a great success and a good time was had by all."

Rita thanked her two sister-in-laws for their help, her friend Audrey Burt for organising a garden party which raised an extra £200, and former colleagues from Northgate High School where she used to work as an assistant cook, for their help with catering.

The total proceeds of £2,076 has now been given to Ipswich Hospital, to help patients who suffer from breast and other forms of cancer.


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