A woman who experienced first hand the loneliness of a cancer diagnosis has set up an Oxfordshire charity for those going through the same.
Now she hopes to take her message of hope to other sufferers across the country.
Jackie Beaumont first noticed something was wrong about five years ago, when she started to have trouble swallowing.
Not suspecting cancer, she put off visiting a GP for several months.
She said: “The last thing on my mind was cancer. I did not really give it a thought. I felt silly going to my GP. I thought it was nothing.”
She was sent for an endoscopy, a procedure which uses a video camera to look inside the body. Experts found a tumour about five centimetres in size at the top of her oesophegus, at the base of her neck.
After treatment, including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery, Ms Beaumont is now well on the road to recovery.
But, despite the “first class treatment” she had at the Oxford Cancer Centre, Ms Beaumont felt more support for sufferers would have helped.
The 56-year-old, from Aynho, near Banbury, said: “I hadn’t thought it was serious, so, when I was told, it was like hitting a brick wall head on. It was incredibly scary.
“I had two close friends that were absolutely marvellous, but at the time I was on my own.
“I had superb treatment from beginning to end. It really couldn’t be faulted. The only thing was, I had no one to talk to who had been through it, so I wanted to start an organisation that could help.”
She has set up the Oxfordshire Oesophageal and Stomach Organisation (OOSO) and given up a high powered job with a health company director to dedicate her time to touring wards and offering support.
Ms Beaumont said: “We are so incredibly well looked after in hospital. It concerns me that some people don’t have anyone to talk to at home.
“Simple things – like advice on what food to eat, and how to look after yourself. People become incredibly weak and lose a lot of weight. Patients may need reminding that day-to-day tasks, like washing, ironing, making the bed or walking the dog may need rethinking.”
Ms Beaumont said she hoped OOSO could be a blueprint for support groups across the country.