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Daughter’s poignant tribute to ‘inspiring’ cancer victim

A MOTHER whose life-prolonging surgery was cancelled twice last year died this week following what her daughter has described as an ‘inspiring’ battle with ovarian cancer.

Ann Colton (58), from Gortmore Park, was determined to spend the last weeks of her life at home. Her funeral is due to take place this morning (Thursday) in Christ the King Church, Strathroy. She was diagnosed with the disease in March 2020, and had urgent surgery called off twice, on one occasion just 15 minutes before she arrived at hospital. Her daughter said the system had ‘let her mother down’.

Penny told the UlsterHerald that the tragedy of her mother’s death was made all the more poignant coming amid the celebrations for Tyrone’s fourth All-Ireland win on Saturday.

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“My mother had been in hospital, but was always set on coming home and made sure she got her wish,” said Penny.

“We watched the All-Ireland Final together as a family on Saturday. For me, the success of the Tyrone team helped keep my spirits up. It’s the simple things in life which help us at this time and mummy always encouraged us to enjoy those because they are what matters.”

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“The surgery to treat her and prolong her life was cancelled twice. But through it all she never complained and always saw the positive side of life with so much grace. That’s a lesson which I’ll take with me forever.

“Her life was a real inspiration. She was a very creative and spiritual person and her poems and books are especially poignant now because her positive attitude to life has been a real inspiration and help to me and so many others.

“We could always talk to her about anything and really was our best friend. Mammy was a very open person, someone who never judged others and my best friend. I did everything with her, especially during the past 18 months since the diagnosis.”

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Ann Colton was brought up in O’Kane Park and lived all her life in Omagh. She worked for many years as an Auxilliary Nurse in the Tyrone County Hospital, combining her work with raising three children.

During later years, she became a talented poet and author. Her final book was published three years ago.

She was also a member of Derry Playhouse Writers and Omagh Writers and one of her poems, Alzheimer’s was used for training purposes by the Shelter Housing Association.

Her daughter, Penny, said that, while her mother’s life was an inspiration, the fact that she had two surgeries cancelled, highlighted the need for change within the NHS.

“To be honest, the system has let my mother and loads of other patients down and I’m not being bitter about that,” Penny added.

“Even when she was being diagnosed, I felt we were being fobbed off. It just makes me think whether we’re best all going for private healthcare. The NHS is very busy and overwhelmed, but when does taking Covid as a priority over people’s health stop.

“I never knew until watching her what real strength and true grit really meant. Mummy did everything for me and over the course of her illness I tried to repay that debt. We’re so proud of her because she went on her own terms and that’s what we wanted.”

Ann Colton is survived by her partner, Billy, children Michaela, Penny and James, grandchildren Lilly-Rose and Caleb, brother, Terry and sister Maureen. She was pre-deceased by Sam and Brendan.

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW