A councillor struck down by breast cancer for a second time says she is determined to return to her council duties in April.
Monica Graham is undergoing chemotherapy more than 16 years after she was first diagnosed.
The long-serving Wakefield South ward councillor says she has responded well to the treatment and the tumour doctors have found is beginning to shrink.
The 77-year-old said: “I was given the all-clear after five years and I never thought it would come back.
“It was a tremendous shock this time because it started as a pain in my arm that I had for two years.
“I was totally gobsmacked when I was diagnosed, it was more like muscular pain.
“My way is to keep cheerful and keep a positive mental attitude - I will be back in April, I’m determined and I’ll be twice as strong - what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger.”
Coun Graham was first diagnosed in 2001, just two months after her husband passed away and she started chemotherapy on Boxing Day, 2001.
Her second battle began when she was diagnosed on her birthday, July 4, this year.
The former dental nurse, who has been elected four consecutive times, started a gruelling six-month chemotherapy programme in July, and then has to undergo up to six weeks of radiotherapy. Despite her tenacious attitude towards living with cancer, she says support from family, friends and Wakefield Council has helped her stay strong, along with a group of breast cancer survivors - Breast of Friends - who meet monthly at Pinderfields Hospital.
She said: “I was overwhelmed by the kindness and friendliness “It’s important for newly-diagnosed women to talk with those who have been through this and survived. The group helps pick you up, they have all experienced it and know what you’re going through. Family members are great support but they are upset and find it difficult to understand at times.”
The group meets on the second Thursday of each month, call 07834 8984697 for details.