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Tributes paid to popular Norwich cancer campaigner

PUBLISHED: 16:19 19 February 2011 | UPDATED: 16:19 19 February 2011

Rodney White and Anne-Marie Mason with condolence cards for Patricia Ann Mason; Photo: Bill Smith.

Rodney White and Anne-Marie Mason with condolence cards for Patricia Ann Mason; Photo: Bill Smith.

Archant © 2011

A local cancer support group is mourning the loss of a committed and well-loved Norwich volunteer who has passed away after losing her own long-running battle with cancer.

Patricia Ann Mason

Patricia Ann Mason had operated the Norwich branch of the Oesophageal Patients Association with her partner Rodney for the best part of the last 15 years.

They offered a 24-hour telephone support line and a popular support group every six months at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital until ill-health meant the couple had to scale back their involvement.

Miss Mason suffered from repetitive skin cancer since her first diagnosis in 1991 and was told by doctors that her 13-operation battle was coming to an end in December. She did not want her life to end in a hospice and passed away aged 66 in her home on Ipswich Road on January 30.

Mr White is still dealing with the loss of his beloved partner but he is keen to see her receive the praise she deserved for all her hard work over the years for oesophageal cancer sufferers in Norwich.

"She would always make people feel very comfortable because she was very approachable and very welcoming."

Patricia Ann Mason’s daughter Anne-Marie

He said: “She used to light up the room and I was very proud to go out with her. We had OPA meetings every six months and Pat would never let anyone in unless they were smiling. She was the most positive person I have ever known.

“She had 13 operations for cancer since 1991 and I had oesophageal cancer about 15 years ago, so that’s why we got involved.”

A keen bingo player, Miss Mason also loved line dancing.

Lorraine and Mike Ruddle took over the running of the Norwich Oesophageal Patients’ Association when Miss Mason and Mr White were no longer able to continue because of ill-health.

Mrs Ruddle said their hard work for the group will long be remembered and that Miss Mason is a big loss to them. She said: “Pat was a very lovely and caring woman, she is a great loss. She was the same of a lot of survivors, who are grateful to still be around and wanted to give something back.”

Miss Mason’s daughter Anne-Marie, 34, moved back to the couple’s home on Ipswich Road from her life as an occupational therapist in Reading to help care for her mother.

Anne-Marie said: “She would always make people feel very comfortable because she was very approachable and very welcoming. She was always there to have a good old chat and to reassure people and have a joke.

“On December 16 mum phoned me when I was at work and said that the doctors had said there was nothing more they could do and just said that she wanted us to have a good Christmas together.

“She got more and more poorly to the point where she should have been in a hospice, but she didn’t want that, so we did pretty much all of her care at home. The district nurses came in once a week up until the last week when mum needed to have continuing care.

“Our GP, Dr Rowe at Cringleford Surgery, was absolutely amazing.” Mr White also praised the Humbleyard Practice at Wymondham and Prestige Nursing Norwich.

Miss Mason’s funeral is arranged for 11.15am at Earlham Crematorium, Mr White welcomes anyone who knew his partner to attend, with the wake at Hethersett Social Club shortly after noon.

Sandra Butler, who leads the line dancing classes that Patricia used to attend on Tuesday nights at Wild Stallion Dance Ranch on Plumstead Road, said her classes are not the same without Miss Mason.

She said: “There are no words to describe her really, she was get a little gem of a person, a beautiful person. You don’t get those sort of people often, she was a lovely lady and is terribly missed at our classes even now and she had not come for a long while.

“There is a song called Galway Girls that we always play for Pat, it’s an Irish dance and she just loved the dance. When bands play it they still dedicate it to her now.

“You wouldn’t think that just one person could make such a big difference but she really did.”

Lorraine and Mike Ruddle took over the running of the Norwich Oesophageal Patients’ Association when the Miss Mason and Mr White were no longer able to continue because of ill-health.

Mrs Ruddle said their hard work for the group will long be remembered and that Miss Mason is a big loss to them. She said: “We are basically a support group that is all voluntary and self-funded to help newly diagnosed people through their treatments and after their operations.

“Oesophageal cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the UK and is starting to effect younger and younger people. It has always mainly effected men but now more and more women are getting it.

“Pat was a very lovely and caring woman, she is a great loss. She was a same of a lot of survivors, who are grateful to still be around and wanted to give something back.

“She will be most missed from our point of view on both a personal and professional level.”

For more about the Norwich Oesophageal Patients’ Association visit: http://www.nnuh.nhs.uk/Dept.asp?ID=366

Do you know someone who has performed exceptional work for a charity? Contact reporter David Freezer on 01603 772418 or on email at
david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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