‘I’m a survivor of cancer hell’

Brome, Suffolk. Lynne Ainge with a picture of her late husband Pete who died from cancer and she is also a cancer survivor ANL-140104-161815001
Brome, Suffolk. Lynne Ainge with a picture of her late husband Pete who died from cancer and she is also a cancer survivor ANL-140104-161815001

When Lynne Ainge speaks to others about her ‘cancer journey’, it can bring them to tears.

She is a survivor of cancer. Not just of the breast cancer that she has been clear of now for four years, but also of the cancers that have claimed the life of her husband, her mother and now, the cancer that will claim her father.

On Good Friday, April 18, Lynne and her friends at the Diss and District Bowls Club are holding a ‘Bowls Marathon’ at the club to raise money for Big C, the Norfolk charity which has offered her so much support.

Her mother Hazel Tooke died in June 2001, of liver cancer, aged just 68, at a time when Mrs Ainge was planning to celebrate her 40th birthday.

Lynne said the loss of her mother left a big part of her life missing.

Then in 2009 she was diagnosed with breast cancer after self-checking and finding a lump.

Lynne, 52, of Brome, said: “It was an emotional time. I called it my enemy within. I had a fantastic surgeon at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

“I was working at the hospital as lead health and safety advisor during my treatment and carrying on as normal was very important to me.”

That’s where the Big C centre at the hospital also helped.

Lynne said: “The centre was my bolt hole. I needed a place to escape and be anonymous.”

After surgery, she said her “enemy within” became her “enemy without” and she has been clear of cancer now for just over four years.

Lynne said: “I couldn’t have got through without my husband’s support and the support of the Big C.”

Her husband and “soulmate” Pete Ainge died aged just 65 from bladder cancer in October.

About a year earlier, what was thought to be a urinary tract infection, was in fact something more serious.

After the diagnosis Lynne was able to give up work to help care for her husband.

She said they were able to get out and do things together, and she has many happy memories from that time.

But she said, again, the Big C centre offered them both the chance to escape the strains of life, relax, and talk to others in similar situations.

Pete, who was a retired social worker for people with learning disabilities, was keen that his wife carry on with her interests.

“The week before my husband died, he said: “You must go out and play your bowls”,” said Lynne.

“He didn’t want me sitting at home moping. He said he knew things were not going to get better, and that moping at home would not bring him back.

“Bowls has been a salvation.

“I played a few days after Pete died. It was very hard but the people at the club were absolutely brilliant.”

Then earlier this year, her dad Arthur Tooke, of Hethersett, went into hospital and was ultimately diagnosed with lymphoma - a type of blood cancer.

Mr Tooke, 80, was given six weeks to live, but happily he has gone past his prognosis and Mrs Ainge said she is making the most of the time they have left together.

She said Mr Tooke has his “ups and downs” but also has a real determination.

And so the bowls marathon at the club on Good Friday is something she is looking forward to, with funds raised going to the Big C, a charity which she says has got her through tough times, and on many occasions.

The 24-hour marathon begins at 7pm on Good Friday, with participants wearing onesies, and with Lynne even sporting her now trademark pink wig, marking her successful battle against cancer.

Visitors will be welcome to visit the club, off Denmark Green, Diss, at any time during the 24 hours. If you bring slippers or kick off your shoes then you can even have a go at bowling too.

To donate to Mrs Ainge’s Big C campaign, visit www.justgiving.com/Lynne-Ainge2.

The bowls club page is at www.justgiving.com/dissbowls. They are donating in honour of some other members’ who have been lost to cancer.

Find out more about Big C: www.big-c.co.uk