Valerie's struggle inspires daughter

VALERIE Brown has cheated death not once, not twice, but three times.The unassuming but extremely determined 64-year-old has been diagnosed with three completely separate cancers in different parts of her body - her bladder, lung and womb - and at one point was given just a one in ten chance of survival.

VALERIE Brown has cheated death not once, not twice, but three times.

The unassuming but extremely determined 64-year-old has been diagnosed with three completely separate cancers in different parts of her body - her bladder, lung and womb - and at one point was given just a one in ten chance of survival.

But Mrs Brown, of Worcester Road, Ipswich, never gave in and thanks to often gruelling treatment and spectacularly good care from Ipswich Hospital she conquered the disease each time.

Now her proud daughter Debra Parks has pledged to run in honour of her mum at this year's Race for Life event - which raises thousands of pounds for vital research into cancer.


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Mrs Brown, who has three children and five grandchildren, said: “One in three people are supposed to get cancer - I think I've had my fair share now!

“It is really unusual to get three completely different cancers that aren't related. I feel really lucky for what I have now and enjoy life even more than I did.”

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Even when doctors told her the treatment for the small cell lung cancer, caused by her smoking habit which she gave up years beforehand, would be extremely painful and possibly not work Mrs Brown refused to browbeaten.

“It wasn't a hard decision to go for the treatment,” the former Argos store manager added.

“The consultant explained everything and I just thought 'let's get on with it'. I never thought about death and I wasn't scared. The doctors were absolutely brilliant.”

She said the worst part of the journey was having radiotherapy on her head as a preventative measure where her face was put in a mask and bolted onto a bench, and her only thought was that if there was a fire she couldn't get out!

But it worked, and today Mrs Brown is fit and well, and refusing to live in fear of the cancer returning once again.

She walks every day with her husband of 44 years, Terry, who is exceptionally proud of his wife.

“Nothing fazes her - even cancer,” he said.

Have you beaten cancer? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The battle

IT was in 2002 that Valerie Brown's epic battle with cancer began when she was diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Doctors told the family it was one of the easiest forms of the killer disease to treat.

Mrs Brown needed a small operation and chemotherapy treatment to flush out any remaining cancer cells.

Then in 2006, free from any recurrence of the bladder cancer, Mrs Brown saw a consultant dermatologist at Ipswich Hospital about the psoriasis she had been suffering from. During the consultation he noticed she coughed a lot and ordered a chest x-ray.

Several scans later doctors learnt she had small cell lung cancer - a deadly form of cancer that kills most of its victims.

She faced certain death or a gruelling combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to the head which would still only give her a 10per cent chance of survival.

But Mrs Brown took her chances and despite the nightmare came through on the other side.

Then disaster struck for a third time as during her treatment doctors discovered irregular bleeding and an ultrasound scan revealed a tumour in her womb - completely unrelated to the two before.

So as soon as she finished her lung cancer treatment she had a hysterectomy to deal with the womb tumour.

Now all the family hope it was third time lucky and the cancer curse has finally disappeared.

Race for Life

DEBRA Parks was so inspired by her mum's courageous and dignified battle with cancer that she decided to take on a challenge she wouldn't have dreamt of before.

So in 2008 she ran Race for Life, the pink-themed event which sees thousands of women run, jog or walk five kilometres, all in the name of Cancer Research UK.

And this year the 43-year-old accountant who now lives in Felixstowe is tackling the course again.

She said: “I'm normally the person who sponsors other people to do things, so it was a big deal for me.

“Every time I flagged I thought of how Mum had to keep going through all her treatments and operations, and felt the least I could do was keep running for a few more metres.”

Last year's efforts saw Mrs Park raise more than �1,300, and she hopes people will sponsor her again this year.

This year women in Ipswich can Race For Life on Sunday, June 7, in Chantry Park, or Wednesday, July 8, at Trinty Park.

Last year 4,500 women walked, jogged or ran the event and raised �285,472.

Women in Ipswich are invited to enter Cancer Research UK's Race for Life at www.raceforlife.org or by calling 0871 6412282.

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