Cancer survivor celebrates landmark

IT was the telephone call Dot Cook had been dreading - and when it came the person on the other end of the line delivered the message she did not want to hear.

By David Lennard

IT was the telephone call Dot Cook had been dreading - and when it came the person on the other end of the line delivered the message she did not want to hear.

She was told the devastating news she had breast cancer and needed to go in to hospital for an operation.

“I can remember that day as if it was yesterday. That telephone call sent a shiver down my spine,” said Mrs Cook.

The fateful telephone call could hardly have come at a worse time - on the day of her 40th birthday.

“I should have been making plans to celebrate with family and friends, but instead was preparing for a major operation,” she recalled.

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Those anxious times, at the end of April 1966, may be fresh in the memory, but the battling pensioner's story was far from over, and she has recently celebrated turning 80 - something she had dared not dream of four decades earlier.

The occasion was marked with a party with 150 guests and Mrs Cook, from Leiston, spoke of her joy at reaching the landmark.

“It was a wonderful party and as I was enjoying myself I could not help but think back to my birthday 40 years earlier,” she said.

“I could not begin to think I would be celebrating my 80th birthday with such lovely people all around me when I was told about my cancer.

“I just hope that other people will read about my experiences and that it will give them hope for the future.”

Mrs Cook said she considered herself “very lucky” to have such a wonderful family of three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren as well as so many friends.

She also paid tribute to the staff at Ipswich Hospital who cared for her when she went in for her life-saving operation.

“I still remember that I had to have 72 stitches following the operation and eight pints of blood but I cannot thank the staff at Ipswich Hospital enough for all the help I received 40 years ago.”

Together with her husband, “Plum”, she ran two of the most popular public houses in the Leiston area.

From 1950 to 1965, the couple ran The Fox, in Darsham, before moving to Leiston to take over The Volunteer where they continued to work until they retired in 1988.

“We had such wonderful times at both pubs and made so many friends. At The Volunteer we ran several darts teams, both men and women, and were well known all over the area,” said Mrs Cook.

The couple also received the ultimate accolade while running The Volunteer when it was named the region's pub of the year.

Instead of having presents for her 80th birthday, Mrs Cook asked for donations to her favourite charities and was able to donate £600 to be shared between breast cancer research and the Friends of Aldeburgh Hospital as her husband receives regular respite care at the community hospital.

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