Letters, Saturday, October 8th, 2011

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Face up to cancer and you can beat it

I AM writing in total agreement with Alan Genter’s letter “Seeking help with your cancer”.

I was diagnosed in October 2010, at the age of 48. I had none of the usual symptoms that are related to bowel cancer and had visited my doctor with tiredness and anaemia. After 10 months I eventually got my diagnosis. My cancer had spread to my liver and lung and I have undergone a year of surgery and chemotherapy, which has been successful. At last I am starting to get my life back to some normality.

Cancer turned our lives upside down in a matter of days, and myself, my husband and children have struggled at times during all my treatment, but we have managed by facing this head on, and always been honest with each other.

I agree with Alan totally that no matter how worried you are about your symptoms or that trip to the doctor’s you must be strong and make it, and whatever the outcome you can get through it with family, friends and the amazing team at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

So to end my letter like Alan’s: don’t ignore it and bury your head in the sand, because ignoring it will eventually kill you.

Michelle Hunter, Baldersdale Gardens, Tunstall, Sunderland

Big thank-you

YET again I wish to thank the hundreds – if not thousands – of kind folk who donated more than £1,400 in a recent nine-day period.

The audiences at Sunderland Empire generously gave more than £312 between Tuesday and Thursday, September 20-22. As well as thanking Rachael Sourfield and her staff for the hospitality, I wish to thank Ed Byrne, the comedian, who obliged me by mentioning “Jeff Coxon, the one-legged OAP dressed up as a clown collecting for Grace House in the foyer”. The audience responded with an amazing £100 in 10 minutes when leaving.

The next day shoppers at Asda, Peterlee, donated more than £265, and the next day shoppers at Sainsburys at Fulwell responded with more than £294. Again, I had my clown’s outfit on, then kept it on for the Race For Grace the next day.

A few days later the customers at Tesco, Chester-le-Street, gave a very generous £317.

I felt privileged to hand over almost £1,400 on behalf of you all in just nine days. I must apologise to the two kiddies, and many adults who were genuinely scared of my appearance as a clown. I assure you, however, that I am an even scarier sight without my face paint and wig!

I further want to thank the many thousands on whose behalf I have been able to hand over £16,000 in my two years’ involvement with Grace House. It is my aim, if the doctors keep me going, to raise £100,000 before I retire in eight years’ time at 75 years of age.

I assure you that my fund-raising will not include jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft again. However, I am toying with idea of “zip-wiring” over the Tyne from the Baltic Flour Mills on my 70th birthday.

As a result of my involvement with Grace House I have made many new friends. Friendship is priceless, so I can safely say that I have got more out of Grace House than they have out of me.

My deepest gratitude for everyone’s support over the last two years and I hope, indeed I know, that this support will continue.

Jeff Coxon, Lawnside, Seaham

Just the job!

I WOULD like to pay tribute to the advisers at the Sunderland Job Centre – the light at the end of the tunnel of my education.

It is admirable to see them doing their part to reduce the deficit by adding an obstacle course of administrative challenges, distinctions and procedures to make Jobseeker’s Allowance all the more challenging to acquire.

I applaud their commitment to treat everyone equally, regardless of how polite, nervous and naive individual claimants may be. I was struck by the posters strewn around the office that preach of respect and good manners, as I happen to love irony.

Finally, I wish to express my admiration for the teams’ dutiful fostering of an atmosphere of grudging generosity not dissimilar to a prison canteen. Perhaps this explains why the Sunderland Job Centre is such a popular building – I for one will certainly be joining the queue again.

Literature graduate

Striking teachers

OVER the past couple of weeks BBC North East Television News has given time and space to teachers from three unions who decided to withdraw their labour from Kenton School in Newcastle on predetermined dates.

The sight of members of the teaching profession standing at the gates of their school waving banners and bellowing asinine chants through megaphones prompts an important question: How did such blinkered individuals manage to slip through the net to gain entrance to the teaching profession?

An average salary of £35,000 and 14 weeks’ paid holiday a year are terms of service workers employed in private sector industry can only dream about.

Inspite of proposed changes to their pension schemes, fulfilling their terms of service will provide them with a level of retirement income that will never be achieved by the vast majority of taxpayers who provide the wherewithal for teachers and the rest of the public sector.

To be blunt, they don’t know how lucky they are. Whatever their dispute with the management of the school, by withdrawing their labour and demonstrating on the streets of Newcastle, the teachers of Kenton School are behaving in a manner best described as disgraceful.

Ron Metcalf, Warwick Drive, Sunderland