Why Gina is living her life to the full now in Kessingland

A MOTHER-of-two who has spent 18 months fighting and recovering from breast cancer has spoken about her determination to overcome the illness – in the hope of helping others to come through it.

After her diagnosis, Gina Cooper, 44, from Kessingland, near Lowestoft had to have a mastectomy, underwent breast re-construction surgery and then faced six months of exhausting chemotherapy treatment.

But, despite the gruelling nature of her treatment, she refused to give up her degree studies and, as well as battling successfully against her illness, she gained a well-earned promotion at work.

Mrs Cooper said that after finding out that she had breast cancer, she was studying part-time for a degree in inclusive practice in education at the University of East Anglia and she was told she would have to put her studies on hold while she was treated at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

So determined was she to carry on that she ignored advice, burning the midnight oil to complete her course.

Her hard work paid double dividends when she achieved a first class honours degree – and gained a promotion from her post as a beauty therapy lecturer at Lowestoft College to section manager for professional development.

Now she has set her sights on obtaining a masters degree in teaching and learning and, as she prepared for further hours poring over textbooks and writing her essays, she took time out to thank all the staff at the James Paget, led by Prof Jerome Pereira, who have been helping her overcome breast cancer.

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Mrs Cooper, who will be on anti-cancer drugs for the next five years, said: 'Having cancer is not what anyone would choose but it can have a positive effect on your life. It has helped me put what is important in life into perspective. I am living life to the full far more that I did before I am really grateful to the team at the James Paget for enabling to get on with my life. I want to thank Prof Pereira and his wonderful team for their hard work and dedication.

'I am really grateful to them all.'

Mrs Cooper said she also wanted to thank her family and friends for their support.

She added: 'I was told that I would have to give up my degree.

'But I was determined not only to complete it but to get a first class honours as well. I could see light at the end of the tunnel and I did keep a very positive attitude.'

James Paget breast care nurse specialist Rachel Fenn, said: 'Gina has done fantastically well to remain positive throughout her treatments and to gain her degree. It is very important for us as a team to support patients and their families throughout their breast cancer treatments and beyond.'

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