JAN Inman had held her husband Ron in her arms as he died. The couple had been married for 45 years but towards the end of his life, Ron had struggled with dementia.

Months after losing Ron, Jan , 64, suffered another terrible blow. Out of the blue, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She said: “Even the surgeon didn’t think there was anything wrong, but I had a mammogram and there it was.”

Six months of gruelling chemotherapy followed at Colchester General Hospital’s Mary Barron suite. It was hard, but Jan was astonished by the outstanding quality of care.

She said: “To say I was impressed is the largest understatement ever. They do their professional job, but they go way above that.

“At my first session, I happened to say I had lost my husband, so I thought they were being extra kind to me because of that.

“Then I found out they’re like that with everyone. They’re amazing.

“They feel more like friends. I had my last chemo three weeks ago and I am struggling now, because I don’t see them any more.”

A friend who gives Jan lifts to hospital described it was more like taking her to her social club – and the medical treatment has brought very positive results.

Jan, of High View Avenue, Great Clacton, said: “Chemo is brutal. It has to be to do its job.

“I started off with three tumours. One has disappeared altogether and two are down to an eighth of the size they were.

“You can’t ask for more than that.

“I want people in this area to know if they have to have chemo, that unit is the best place, bar none.”

Jan even cornered inspectors from the NHS watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, who happened to be visiting Colchester General to sing the hospital’s praises.

She is one of the many patients telling their stories to add their support to the Cancer Centre Campaign, which is supported by the Gazette.

The £4.5million appeal aims to create a new cancer centre at the hospital, bringing treatments and support services together.

Jan said: “The chemo and radiotherapy departments are so far apart at the moment it’s ridiculous.“This is what the money being raised for – for a centre of excellence all under one roof.

“The Mary Barron Suite is second to none. Everyone I have spoken to feels exactly the same about the unit.

“I just feel so strongly people need to know if they are diagnosed with cancer, they couldn’t be in a better place. I seriously miss going there. They had become my friends.

“On my last day I made them a huge hamper because I just wanted to show my appreciation.”

Jan added: “The love I was shown on the Mary Barron Suite was amazing. They were wonderful – not just the nurses, but all the staff. They are incredible and so supportive and willing to give you time.

“I would rather not have had to go through this, but I have met some amazing people and they deserve every ounce of praise. I couldn’t fault them in any way.

“We will continue to carry on doing what we can.

“I have a lovely young man who is my gardener and has offered to do a bike ride next year to raise money.

“I just hope and pray the money starts to build, so we can have a cancer centre of excellence, which will be something to be proud of.”



JAN is backing the cancer centre appeal, but it’s not the first time she’s been involved in a health -related campaign.

After husband Ron was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, she lobbied for more specialist nurses – and won the support of celebrities, including Hollywood actor Robert de Niro.

Ron’s death, at the age of 66, last December, means Jan still hasn’t quite come to terms with her own illness.

She said: “It hasn’t really hit me, because the worst thing that could happen to me had already happened.

“Ron was just the loveliest man on the planet. Because I decided I wanted to care for him at home, I needed help and advice.

“I was lucky to be given an Admiral Nurse when there were only 100 of them to help carers of people with dementia.”

Jan launched an online petition to urge the Government to employ more expert nurses. She said: “I had to go on to Twitter, which I’d never done before, but it kind of snowballed. Then I was asked to write a blog – something else I’d never done.

“Now I have 500 followers on Twitter all over the world who are supporting me. Most are health professionals, but there are a few celebrities who follow me, including Dame Penelope Keith, Robert De Niro and broadcaster Matthew Wright.”

Jan’s puppy, Innie has also helped her through the hard times.

She said: “She has given me love, which I never thought I would have again. Ron was such a wonderful man. I miss him so much, but on the other hand, seeing me go through this would have devastated him.”




To donate to the appeal, text GAZE11 £10 to 70070 to donate to the Cancer Centre Campaign (or choose a
different amount).
Cheques can be made payable to CoHoC Cancer Centre Campaign and sent to
Colchester Hospitals Charity, Colchester General Hospital, Turner Road,
Colchester, CO4 5JL. Donations can also be made online by going to