A WOMAN who has battled cancer twice has been given an award for work to found a service aimed at making sure no-one goes through treatment by themselves.

Jackie Easton, a volunteer from Macmillan Cancer Support, has been volunteering with the charity for more than four years after being diagnosed twice with different types of the disease.

She helped to found the Durham Not Alone service, which is run by volunteers who try to make sure no-one has to go through cancer treatment without support.

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Mrs Easton, who lives in Esh and is treasurer of Durham and District Women’s Cancer Support Group, has been given Macmillan’s top award for her volunteering work.

She said: “I found out when I was in hospital for surgery and I was overwhelmed. It’s such an honour – it’s amazing.”

The 64-year-old, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and ovarian cancer in 2012, discovered she had the BRCA 2 gene – which puts women at high risk of developing the disease– after her daughter Charlotte was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

Charlotte, a classics teacher and former elite cyclist, died of the disease last year at the age of 36.

Mrs Easton's other daughter Susannah also carries the BRCA 2 gene and her husband Mike has battled prostate cancer.

Mrs Easton said: "Like a lot of people I wanted to put something back into society. As a family we have had a lot of involvement with cancer.

"When Charlotte was having chemotherapy in London I was having surgery in Gateshead so I don't know how the family coped.

"I had very good support from my family but I came up with the idea after a friend of mine said she wouldn't have chemotherapy again because she lived alone.

"Chemotherapy isn't very nice so if that's the reason that's fine but if it's because there's no-one there to support, that's not a good reason which is why I asked Macmillan to set up the scheme."

Since it launched in 2014 it has helped around 60 people in the Durham area, has been extended to help palliative care patients and those going through radiotherapy and has also been set up in Darlington and Newcastle.

Jane Mielniczek, Macmillan's direct volunteering manager for the North, who nominated Mrs Easton for the award, said: "She goes above and beyond anything she is asked to do. She has always offered her time, even when she's in a hospital bed. Her commitment is extraordinary.

"Thanks to Jackie we now have across County Durham a service which can supports people who live alone."