Mom commits suicide after wrongly believing cancer returned
London – A dental nurse who beat breast cancer killed herself as she wrongly feared the disease had returned, an inquest heard.
Mother-of-one Dawn Cheetham, 43, was given the all-clear after undergoing chemotherapy in 2015.
But when she started getting pains in her stomach she convinced herself the disease had returned. An inquest heard that a row with her long-term partner, Jonathan Mellor, 38, in July, was the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.
Miss Cheetham hanged herself in her daughter’s room after he went out with friends, instead of going on their usual ‘date night’. A post-mortem examination found no evidence that cancer had returned.
The inquest in Heywood, near Manchester, was told Miss Cheetham and Mr Mellor had been together for 17 years and had an eight-year-old daughter who was staying at her grandparents on the night her mother died.
Mr Mellor said his partner was a ‘bubbly, lovely lady’ but after beating stage three breast cancer in 2015, the disease was ‘constantly on her mind’. “It was a major issue,” he said. “Every little bit of pain or a stomach cramp, she thought it was the cancer coming back – I think that’s why she did what she did.” Mr Mellor admitted Miss Cheetham was angry when, on Friday July 13, he went out with friends instead of her. They argued but when Mr Mellor returned from the pub later in the evening, he couldn’t get inside their home, in Wardle, near Rochdale, because she had left her keys in the lock on the inside.
He slept in his car and at 5am tried again to rouse Miss Cheetham, but got no reply so went to his parents’ home.
“I didn’t think there was any cause for concern – I just thought she was just being stubborn,” he added. “But my mum went around and said she thought something was wrong. I kicked the door through and went upstairs and I walked into my little girl’s room and found her. When they did the post-mortem, she didn’t have one tiny bit of cancer in her body.”
Miss Cheetham’s sister, Amanda, told police that, in a call shortly before she died, her sister had said she believed cancer was returning. In a statement, psychologist Dr Sarah Kelly said Miss Cheetham recognised she was depressed and had undergone her first therapy session six days before her death.
Recording a suicide verdict, coroner Lia Hashmi said: “The argument with Jonathan was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”