‘They saved my life’

Janinka Etherington, who is returning to work at Brighouse Tesco after a major brain operation, with co-workers, from the left, Lynne Hunt, Angela Dyson, Jane Cuthbert, Moira Denton, Ann-Louise Queenan and Elaine Crawford.

Janinka Etherington, who is returning to work at Brighouse Tesco after a major brain operation, with co-workers, from the left, Lynne Hunt, Angela Dyson, Jane Cuthbert, Moira Denton, Ann-Louise Queenan and Elaine Crawford.

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Family and friends of Janinka Etherigton have saved her life and helped her on the road to recovery after a major seven hour brain operation.

Jan, of Lillands Lane, Rastrick, had to undergo major surgery to stop a tumour on the brain from bleeding but she may not have made it if it wasn’t for her colleagues at Tesco and cousin Janet Ratcliffe.

At the end of September she was feeling unwell and in October her symptoms were becoming more noticeable.

“I started feeling ill and I was turning up late for work. A minute felt like an hour and I was taking longer for my breaks at work. I thought it was a sinus infection.”

Friend Elaine Crawford and Janet booked her in for a doctor’s appointment who carried out a number of tests.

However, a week later when the results were due, Jan did not go to collect them. Janet and Elaine realised something was wrong.

“I went round to her home and found her collapsed on the floor,” said Janet. “She couldn’t get up or move.”

The 54-year-old was rushed to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary before she was transferred to Leeds General Infirmary.

It was there doctors found a tumour on her brain and estimated it had been there for possibly 30 years.

On November 1, surgeons undertook the operation of stopping the bleed by opening her skull from ear to ear.

The operation was a success and friends from the supermarket on Bradford Road, Brighouse, decided to organise a special present for the Leeds United fanatic.

They asked the club if Jan’s idol Peter Lorimer, who she has a tattoo of on her arm, could send her a get well soon message but he decided to do one better.

“I got a letter from her work mates saying that she was in LGI and she was a massive Leeds fan,” said Mr Lorimer. “I thought I could do one better than sending her a card and thought I would go down and see her.

“I also took down a card from the players and staff. Its nice to see that she is recovering and looking good.”

Having followed the club for 43 years, it was a huge surprise for the Elland Road fan.

“I remember the day well as it was the day Leeds was being taken over and I was listening to it on the radio.

“Then Peter walks into the room and I couldn’t believe it. We just sat there talking about the club and what was happening.”

After coming home in time for Christmas, Jan went through six weeks of radiotherapy and has lost two and a half stone.

She has also returned to the store where she has worked for 29 years.

“I can’t thank the store, managers, customers and my friends enough for how supportive they have been.

“They are letting me take extra breaks when I need them or if I am not feeling tired they are letting me go home. It’s like Leeds United’s anthem ‘marching on together’. We have been through a lot together and have had our ups and downs but everybody has been marvellous.

“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.”

Elaine, who has been nominated for colleague of the year, said: “It’s wonderful to have her back and she is getting back to her normal self which is great.”