Son's Olympic dream spurs on cancer mum

A BRAVE cancer victim has told how the thought of seeing her son perform in the London Olympics has spurred her to battle the “silent killer”.

Dave Gooderham

A BRAVE cancer victim has told how the thought of seeing her son perform in the London Olympics has spurred her to battle the “silent killer”.

Lorraine Gardner admitted her son, Ben Preston, who is hoping to be part of Britain's boxing squad in the 2012 Games, was her inspiration in fighting cervical cancer.

And she warned others of the dangers of ignoring the disease after she was only convinced of facing her illness when she saw a warning on her favourite television programme.

She said: “Ben is the only reason I am here today - he is my life. He has been such a great support. At one stage, I even tried to make him hate me as I didn't know if I was going to live or die.

“I held back at the start because I was scared as I knew deep down it was cancer. I had no symptoms so it really was a silent killer.

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“Driving home when I found out, I was trying to figure out how to tell my son. That was one of the hardest things. I just said that 'I have got cancer but I am not going to die'. Then as soon as he left, I just burst into tears.”

Miss Gardner, 47, who lives in Lavenham, near Sudbury, spent five weeks at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, where she underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

She revealed: “I locked myself away in my room at Addenbrooke's as I didn't want Ben to see his mum with hair falling out and being sick.

“Doctors attempted to shrink the tumour by internal radiation but it failed. So they gave me a radical hysterectomy and I am currently in remission.”

Miss Gardner, who suffered two broken legs in a head-on car crash three years ago, only went to see the doctor after watching a feature on Channel Five's The Wright Stuff and within days, she was facing up to prospect of having a 5cm tumour.

She said: “There was a doctor on the show talking about women's problems and at the end, Matthew Wright just looked into the camera, as if he was looking straight at me, and said you have to do something. There is no other way of saying it than the show actually saved my life.”

Miss Gardner, a teaching assistant at All Saints Middle School, Sudbury, was recently invited on the show and met Mr Wright after she called to say thank you to the show's resident health expert Dr Catherine Hood.

She also paid tribute to her son's bosses, Waitrose in Sudbury, and staff at St Nicholas Hospice, in Bury St Edmunds, where she now goes once a month.

Ben's coach at Sudbury Amateur Boxing Club, Charlie Lawson, said they had high hopes for the prodigy who has won regional championships and earned a silver medal in a national championship.

Mr Lawson said: “I think he has very chance of fighting in the Olympics. He has got the potential, the determination and work rate to get there.”

And his proud mother added: “He trains every night and is really working hard towards the Olympics. I couldn't have done this without people like Charlie and the staff at Great Cornard Upper School where Ben goes. We need each other. I'm not just his mother but also his secretary and organiser and one of his biggest fans.”

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