JEANNETTE Hayward, 61, was an inspirational woman whose only thought was for other people despite facing a gruelling battle with terminal cancer.
The Southsea mum and grandmother, who leaves behind husband Steve and their three children, Chris, Ellie and Andy, demonstrated her strength of spirit by fighting back from the brink of death on several occasions thanks to her faith in God.
She was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007 which spread to her lungs and became inoperable before her passing at Queen Alexandra Hospital on Monday September 10 surrounded by loved ones.
The loving mum’s resilience was shown by her following her dream of being ordained as a curate into the Church of England by Bishop Christopher Foster in June at Portsmouth Cathedral after three years of training even though she was undergoing chemotherapy.
Jeannette told The News at the time: ‘It is an honour and a privilege to be ordained. It has been a really humbling experience, one that I didn’t think I would be able to do.’
Her courageousness was highlighted with her managing to pen a wedding anniversary card for her husband Steve three days before she died to mark their 43rd anniversary on September 13.
The poignant card read: ‘To my darling Steve, there are no words to describe how much I love you. Be blessed, all my love Jeannette.’
And Steve said this encapsulated the spirit of his wife. He said: ‘Over the course of the 11 years she was ill, Jeannette came close to dying on so many occasions but always battled back.
‘A lot of it was through the grace of God and by using her faith that kept her going. Even when she was ill she wanted to help other people.’
Jeannette was born in Kenya and moved to Portsmouth after the the country declared independence. She joined St Jude’s Church through its youth group before going on to work as a pastoral care co-ordinator at the church for 16 years before having to step down because of her health.
Her son Andy, 36, said of his mum: ‘She was extremely selfless and would even apologise for being ill. She was an inspiration to us and everyone who met her.’
Daughter Ellie, 34, said: ‘She had an infectious laugh, couldn’t sing or dance – but wouldn’t think twice of doing so anyway – and would have an inspirational impact on everyone around her.’
Andy is taking part in the Great South Run next month to raise funds for cancer research with him running 11 miles – a mile for every year she battled with the illness.
To donate go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/andrew-hayward11