Jane McNamara fought a hard, eight-year cancer battle with a cheerful smile and dedicated work within her community.
The 54 year-old was diagnosed with stage four Metastatic breast cancer in May 2011 and unfortunately lost her battle on Wednesday night surrounded by her children, mother, best friends, sisters and fiancé.
She leaves behind her three children Trent, Taylor and Chelsea, fiancé Wayne Fitzpatrick and grandchildren Chase, Aysha, Levi, Maxi, Mason and an unborn grandchild due in September.
Her family were the most important part of her life.
Wayne summed up broad opinion when he said Jane inspired the community with her strength and outlook.
He explained she was initially misdiagnosed with a cyst. She had two ultrasounds and two mammograms in 12 months when doctors believed Jane was heading into menopause — when cysts are a common occurrence— however, the lump behind her breast was getting bigger and left Jane in a lot of pain. Finally, a biopsy revealed the truth.
‘‘From the moment she was told, Jane’s positivity and strength never let her illness define her,’’ Wayne said.
‘‘She basically turned around and said ‘oh well. I have seen my children grow up and they have turned into beautiful children and I saw my grandson born’ and that was it.
‘‘She lived for her children and her grandchildren.’’
Jane’s friend of 50 years, Robyn Sefton, said it had never been about the cancer with Jane, it had been about Jane and living. The cancer always came second.
‘‘When you are talking about eight years of chemo every three weeks religiously, that was always just what she had to do,’’ Robyn said.
‘‘She was pretty inspirational in the way that she handled it and the way she then demonstrated that in the community. Jane never gave up, there was always a way.
‘‘What she lived for was her kids and grandkids, playing sport and being involved in the community.
‘‘She wanted life to be as normal as possible, so the way she handled that was ‘that’s just what I have to do’.”
While her friends and family agreed she never liked to be in the spotlight, they shared the enormous role Jane played in her local community.
Jane was a guest at the Deni Rams’ ladies day, a guest speaker at the Deni Rovers’ ladies day and played netball with the Rovers until recently — which she started when she was 14.
Her youngest daughter Chelsea McNamara added that Jane played 327 games with Rovers and is still the games record holder for netball within the club.
She was a big part of the local boat club and taught many kids how to ski, would always participate in anything for cancer awareness, was an active member in the rural fire brigade, was involved in the South School canteen, was in the dramatic club, girl guides, basketball, shooting and raised money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
She also worked in administration at the local high school, at the Deniliquin RSL Club for 14 years, the sheriff’s office for about 25 years, at Dr Dumbrell’s office and the local hospital.
She loved having a good time, was always volunteering to do something and gave 100 per cent to whatever she did.
However, her efforts did not stop at local community involvement. Wayne said Jane participated in countless cancer treatment trials so she might be able to help someone else in the future.
‘‘I remember with the first one, her words were ‘yeah I will do that because it won’t help me but it may help somebody else in the future’, and that has been her attitude the whole way through,’’ he said.
‘‘I think she just wanted to help other people and she didn’t want others to go through what she has gone through.’’
Jane fought until the end for her kids and grandkids according to Chelsea, who said her mother never gave up.
‘‘Mum was determined, and she was not letting go but I think she knew, we had all told her it was time,’’ she said.
‘‘She was a perfect person. She had this big grin that changed the whole room when she walked in. She was perfect.
‘‘Her manners were impeccable right until the end. She had her positivity to life, her humour and everything right until the end.
‘‘She is a true inspiration to anybody who has cancer and I think she would inspire them. She was just so giving.’’
Wayne added his partner of 10 years was the ‘‘strongest person I have ever known and to go through what she has been through is incredible’’.
‘‘She has touched so many people and always had a smile on her face no matter how she was feeling. She just wanted to make other people happy and she did, that was it,’’ he said.
‘‘It is hard because we have lost her, but we will always have her because we have so many memories, so many good times and so many people out there that she had done things for.
‘‘She was an incredible and inspiring woman, who would be hating this attention, but will always be a part of our lives.’’
The family has organised a donation box which will be at the St Paul’s Anglican Church for her funeral tomorrow, and at the Deniliquin RSL Club afterwards for the local CanAssist branch.
‘‘They (CanAssist) helped us so much,’’ Wayne said.
‘‘They helped us right up until the end so Jane wanted to make sure people could give to help others locally.
‘‘Any money raised will be donated to CanAssist in Jane’s name. It is her giving back,’’ he said.