Brave Rachel vows to live her life to the full

A COURAGEOUS cancer sufferer is putting her health worries aside to organise a fund-raising concert.

Former teacher Rachel Cryer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June 2009 and underwent an operation and treatment to combat the disease.

But further tests revealed the worst possible news as the cancer had spread to her lungs and she was told there is yet no cure.

However, the 65-year-old refuses to dwell on her condition and has vowed to live life to the full.

She is a member of a walking group, attends sessions of the University of the Third Age and is a regular at the St George’s Lunchtime Concerts in Morpeth.

And now Mrs Cryer is taking on an even bigger task as she organises a fund-raising concert in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

“I’m trying to be positive and I’m getting lots and lots of support from all sorts of people, that’s how I’m getting through,” she said.

“My particular kind of cancer isn’t curable at the moment so I’m just trying to do some fund-raising while I still have the energy.

“I don’t know when I will start to deteriorate so I’m just trying to make the most of each day while I can.”

Mrs Cryer, who has lived in Morpeth for more than 30 years and was a teacher at King Edward VI School, knew there was a history of cancer in her family, but she was surprised when she was first diagnosed as she wasn’t feeling particularly unwell.

“It was a bit of a surprise when I was told that it was actually cancer I had. There were obviously signs that things weren’t right, but I didn’t realise how serious it was,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the lung cancer was a direct result of the pancreatic cancer. One of the rogue cells must have got away, and at the moment there just isn’t a cure.

“There has been cancer in my family, but not the same kind. It has just been a case of bad luck.

“I’m still okay and a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘how are you, you’re looking very well’, because if you saw me on the street you wouldn’t think I had a life-threatening illness. It’s odd saying that I have.

“I just get up every day and enjoy it and try to do something special.”

The Lancaster Park resident has looked into whether there is a trial of new treatments ongoing that she could take part in, but she has been told that there is nothing at the moment and even if there was it is unlikely she would be considered as her condition is stable.

However, she is full of praise for the care she has received so far.

“I have had absolutely wonderful treatment from the NHS in all aspects, from the Freeman Hospital and the Wansbeck, the GPs and Macmillan,” she said.

Initially, Mrs Cryer intended to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care, but she thought for her first fund-raiser it would be better to use the expertise of the local Macmillan group to help set it up and organise another event for Marie Curie when she has more experience.

The concert will be led by the New Voices Choir, but there will also be some family support as Mrs Cryer’s husband Peter will perform with his Old English Folk Group.

She said: “I’m hoping it is going to be a really lovely evening. When I get there I’m sure I’ll know the majority of people so it will be rather nice.

“I have never done anything like this before and I couldn’t have done it without support.

“I have a friend on the Macmillan committee and one or two other people are helping with the music so I’m not alone.

“It’s nice to be able to do something like this. I’m hoping it will be a nice spring evening.”

Macmillan Local Fund-raising Manager Kelly Knighting-Wykes said: “Cancer is the toughest fight most people will ever face.

“Macmillan has a team of people available to help everyone affected by cancer, but we couldn’t continue to provide our valuable services without people like Rachel raising money by organising events, making donations, or even volunteering locally.

“We really appreciate Rachel’s support.”

The concert will take place in Morpeth Methodist Church, Howard Terrace, on Saturday, March 31 at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £5 for adults and accompanied children go free. They are available from Mrs Cryer on 01670 516797, or can be bought at the church.