By Aliki Kraterou
A cancer patient who was told she had less than a year to live has thrown a huge ‘last birthday party’ – inviting the whole village.
Mum Jayne Rae, 53, from Chorley, Lancashire, was diagnosed with breast cancer and was given between 6 and 12 months to live but the devastating news made her want to do more and motivate the people around her.
Jayne, with the help of her daughter Emma Jade Rae, 28, organised a birthday party last week, at Whittle Le Woods, where she invited the entire village to have the best birthday party ever.
Jayne, a former administrator, said: “My nurse told me I was terminal, and I would be on palliative care and pushed the tissues towards me- I just looked at her and said ‘Oh God, no, I just got a 10 year passport!’
“I didn’t cry, I always see life as a journey, you are born and you die- it’s what’s in the middle that’s important.
“I know I don’t have long to live but if I can do something good and make happy memories, that’s what is all about.
“When you are told you are terminal, I fully understand that some people are too ill, but in my case, while I’m still fit and able to get around and able to do things, I want to do things because it gives me goals to continue.
“Usually on my birthday I have my friends over and a singer so I thought what if this year I’d go bigger and have a really big bash.
“Me and my daughter have a lot of friends who are singers so I thought we could have a party for my birthday.
“My family thought I was a bit crazy but they know me, if I put something in my mind I just do it.
And so everyone in Jayne’s community volunteered to help with the party, where more than 1000 people attended.
The party had music, cake stalls bottle tumblers, barbecues and bouncy castles, a raffle and even a horse and the funds raised would go to the hospital, the local hospice, the school and the playground.
Jayne said: “It was a lovely day, it was a bit crazy, but it was great, there was a really good atmosphere.
“If you paint an ideal village get-together, it was exactly like that, real sense of community coming together.
“I know it’s difficult on families and on friends-I have had people cross the street because they don’t know what to say or what to do, it’s too upsetting for them but I’m trying to change that and show to people that a cancer patient is no different than who he was before the diagnosis, just trying to break the stigma away from a horrible disease. “
Jayne was initially diagnosed a tumour on her right breast in June 2014 and after undergoing a full mastectomy and rebuild, she was fine- however a few months later due to insufficient blood flow to her implant, she needed to undergo several reconstruction operations.
Jayne said: “My boob actually exploded, it went narcotic and black, my whole breast was just a big black scab and there were ulcers all around the edge.
“I was sitting having a cup of black coffee and black liquid started leaking and I thought I had spilled my drink.
“My daughter had to call the ambulance- it was pretty horrifying; I was standing in the bathroom with towels on my breasts and every time I removed the towel it was squirting everywhere. “
Sadly last year, Jayne was told that the cancer was back and after 15 sessions of radiotherapy, a scan showed that this time it was terminal.
But instead of letting her diagnosis put her down, Jayne organised a party for her birthday and also raised money for her local community.
Jayne added:”They basically said, it’s back, it’s terminal, it’s spread to my liver, to the base of my lungs to my lymph glands and because it was hitting so many places there was no treatment this time.
“I was told I was terminal and I’d just have palliative care to slow down the progression of the cancer.
“The drug I had first didn’t work but the one I’m on now does – it won’t last forever though, it may last three months or five months before it stops working.
“I thought I’ve not got a great deal of time to live and every time I’d go for blood tests, because my chemo my veins aren’t very good, very narrow, small and difficult to get blood out.
“I have my days when I’m in my wheelchair because I’m so tired and in pain and I can’t do anything but on the days that I’m good ,I’m thinking ‘what can I do today, what can I achieve today?’
Jayne said she ‘won’t stop there’ as she is already planning the next event for Christmas- she has also started planning her own funeral as she says she doesn’t want to burden her family.
She added:“When you are told you are terminal, it’s a wake-up call.
“I thought, ‘I know I’m terminal but what can I do between now and death?’
“I have had a really blessed life, I have worked in different places around the world, I have had my daughter.
“Treatments are getting better but unfortunately it’s not going to come in time for me-as long as I continue to do something and bring people together and make memories for everyone , it takes the stigma away.
“When the drug stops working, I will have end-of-life treatment at home, I am already organising my funeral, I don’t want to bargain my family with it, I already know what passages I want them to read and what music I want.
“I’m just blessed having enough time to sort the things I want and if I can change some people’s attitude then my job here is done. “