How brave Jason helped Aylsham man in his own breast cancer battle

A former City of Norwich School pupil who is battling breast cancer has paid tribute to the help given to him by a man who has just lost his seven-year fight against the disease.

Jason Leech, 44, finally succumbed to breast cancer at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Wednesday evening, with his wife Rachel by his side.

Mr Leech, formerly of Aylesbury Close, New Catton, bravely spoke out about his illness in a bid to raise awareness about male breast cancer and help others who had been struck down the disease.

One of those helped by Mr Leech's words was Sean Cooper who himself was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2007 – just five days after moving home from West Earlham to Aylsham.

Mr Cooper, 47, an engineer for BT OpenReach, said the pair became friends after initially meeting up at the Brickmakers pub in Sprowston Road. He said: 'I arranged to meet him for a pint and he told me what to expect and we've kept in touch ever since. He told me what to expect with the chemotherapy as he had virtually identical treatment to me. He was a great guy and really helpful to me and said anytime you want to call me I will talk to you, which was great.'

Mr Cooper, a father-of-two and grandfather-of-one who lives with his wife Lisa, also 47, in Norwich Road, has had a full mastectomy on his right breast and also had his lymph nodes removed. Following the operation he underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is currently on the anti-cancer drug Tamoxifen.

He is currently waiting to find out the significance of a lining around his lung which was only discovered last week after he had been experiencing bouts of breathlessness. Mr Cooper only found out about his lung the day before he learned that Mr Leech had died.

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He said: 'I had a really down day last Friday. It's just so sad he's gone so quickly. He was a star.'

Mr Cooper said he is waiting for further news about his lung before any decisions are made about what to do next. He said: 'It's tough because you just think of your family the whole while. I'm hoping its nothing.

'There's something wrong but other than that we will just have to wait and see. You get used to waiting for results, with cancer you don't get much choice.'

Mr Leech, a former demolition worker who lived with his wife Rachel at Bramerton, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Mrs Leech, 37, yesterday described her husband as an 'inspiration' and a 'tower of strength to everyone'.

A funeral service and celebration of Mr Leech's life will take place at St Faith's Crematorium at 12.30pm on Thursday, May 5 with the wake afterwards at the Blueberry pub in Norwich. People are urged to wear bright colours.

Would you like to pay tribute to a loved one after a battle with cancer? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email