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Cancer survivor from Sudbury shares recovery story to provide hope for those affected by disease




A woman from Sudbury, who has remained in remission from ovarian cancer for almost a decade, hopes her personal experience will provide optimism for individuals affected by the disease.

Shirley Dockerill was diagnosed with stage 2 ovarian cancer in 2010 at the age of 46.

After suffering from fatigue and bloating, an ultrasound identified a tumour, which involved a hysterectomy combined with the removal of her ovaries, followed by an omentectomy and six rounds of chemotherapy.

Sudbury Shirley Dockerill is marking nine months in remission from ovarian cancer this month..She hopes to raise awareness about her experience and the disease. Picture by Mark Westley. (33874639)
Sudbury Shirley Dockerill is marking nine months in remission from ovarian cancer this month..She hopes to raise awareness about her experience and the disease. Picture by Mark Westley. (33874639)

Reflecting on the mental impact the invasive procedures had, Ms Dockerill said: “It was awful. I had a black depression; my memory went and I felt confused.”

While receiving treatment for the disease, Ms Dockerill had been living in Bahrain, in the Middle East, with her husband.

Having lived there for 28 years after securing a job in training and development, her experience with cancer encouraged Ms Dockerill to consider her long-term future.

“When something like cancer happens, it makes you re-evaluate everything,” said the 56-year-old. “It was not the fault of my husband, but having cancer made me ask myself whether, if I survived, I wanted to spend the rest of my life living abroad with him.”

Last year, Ms Dockerill decided to return to the UK and now lives in Sudbury where she works from home, mentoring apprentices who are appointed to fill roles in human resource departments at various companies across the East of England.

“I had said cancer would not change me, but, in fact, it changed everything,” said Ms Dockerill, of Parkwood Drive. “Everything changed. I’m now divorced, living in a different country and in a different job with a completely different lifestyle.”

Reflecting on her decision to return to the UK, Ms Dockerill said: “It was absolutely right. I haven’t regretted it at all, and I really like Sudbury – I’m very happy here.”

After attending a check-up appointment earlier this year, Ms Dockerill was left overwhelmed by her experience with the disease.

“I was sobbing from that Friday afternoon until the following Tuesday evening,” she said.

“It was like I was mourning. I was thinking about the seven friends who I had lost to ovarian cancer along the way;how the disease left me unable to have children, and the treatment I had gone through which was so invasive and intrusive.

“I know that I am one of the lucky ones, but I needed to go through this and it has given me renewed passion to raise awareness of a disease which can take so much away from people, especially as it is usually caught late.”

Ms Dockerill marked nine years in remission from the disease this month, which has encouraged her to take part in a fashion show in aid of Ovacome, the ovarian cancer support charity.

Highlighting the impact of the disease, Ms Dockerill said: “This is a mental game, and one in which you need to be incredibly strong. I hope that, by sharing my story, I can help other women. There is still very little out there for women who have overcome cancer, and Iwould like to be a person who gives hope.”