Cancer sufferer marks a milestone
TEN years ago, cancer sufferer Lee Charteris was happy just to make it to her 50th birthday, and the NewsMail recognised the occasion with a story about her fight to live.
But today, as she celebrates her 60th birthday, Mrs Charteris is again grateful for the things she has been able to experience in the past few years - not least that she now has a great-grandchild, with another on the way next year.
Mrs Charteris was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, and in 1999 with secondary cancer that has now got into her bones.
"It's stabilised now, and I've had several operations and treatments," she said yesterday.
Mrs Charteris said when she was diagnosed with the secondary cancers, in May 1999, her doctor told her without chemotherapy she would be lucky to see Christmas.
And she said she was living proof that there was hope for people diagnosed with cancer.
"That's what I would like people to know; it's not all doom and gloom," she said.
Mrs Charteris said after making it past 50, hitting 60 was a bonus.
"Now I want to see how far I can go," she said.
Not every moment of her life is rosy, as Mrs Charteris acknowledges.
"You have your down moments and you have your up moments," she said.
"Sometimes you look all right on the outside but it's not the same on the inside.
"I'm just getting on with living."
Mrs Charteris said when she was first diagnosed with cancer, she asked her doctor how long she had left, and he told her one patient of his had lived for 16 years.
"That gives me something to aim at," she said.
"I have seen a lot of people go, which is really sad."
Mrs Charteris tries to stay positive, helped by the support of her family and friends.
She is still receiving chemotherapy, but her treatments changed when the cancer "got used to it".
"My last treatment lasted four years and my doctor said he had no one on his books who had lasted that long on the one treatment," she said.