THE birth of a child is always significant.

But for cancer survivor Mary Parfitt, the birth of her grandson Ollie, the day after her treatment ended, was the dawn of a new era.

Mary was 50 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It came out of the blue," she said.

"There was no history of cancer in my family. I found a lump and had it checked.

"Even the doctor said there was probably nothing to worry about but to get it checked.

"About 90 per cent of women who go to the breast clinic are told it is nothing to worry about. I thought I was bound to be one of those."

But the lump was cancer and Mary was told she would have to masectomy followed by chemo and radiotherapy.

"I think you are in denial at first.

"One of my biggest fears was being diagnosed with cancer.

"When he told me it was cancer, I burst into tears.

"It was such a shock. I have lost two friends to breast cancer in the past four years.

"It is pretty scary. When I was told I would have to have a masectomy, I just wanted it gone.

"I haven't bothered with reconstructive surgery. I am quite fine about it."

Mary, who works at Tesco in Tiptree, had her head shaved after her first treatment of chemotherapy along with her son, Gary, and three other colleagues at the store.

In March, she underwent more surgery to have her lymphnodes removed and six weeks later she began radiotherapy.

"In all, the treatment was not too bad. If I was tired, I had a lay down.

"I had to spend a week in hospital after one of my chemo sessions because it knocked my immune system out.

"When I was in there, I realised how lucky I was."

Her last treatment was on July 2, exactly eight months to the day after her diagnosis.

The following day, her second grandson, Ollie, was born.

Mary, of Kiltie Road, Tiptree, who is mum to Jo, 27, and Gary, 25, as well as stepmum to Annie, 18, said; "My daughter was pregnant throughout my treatment.

"At the beginning I had a thought 'Am I going to see this baby?'

"But it kept me going. I think it was amazing he was growing all that time when I was having treatment."

Mary now wants to support the Cancer Centre Campaign. She is to give her commission from selling Avon products to the appeal, hoping to raise in the region of £5,000 over two years.

"I've had great support from family and friends," she said. "At the hospital, especially when I was having chemo, they were so supportive and reassuring."