6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to EDP Norfolk today click here

New Norfolk author’s inspiring cancer battle

PUBLISHED: 13:43 15 May 2017

Jane Hoggar

Jane Hoggar


Even hair loss and hospitals can be humorous in the hands of new author Jane Hoggar and her artist daughter

Rallying Round by Jane's daughter Holly Bishop for Chemo Summer Rallying Round by Jane's daughter Holly Bishop for Chemo Summer

Dancer, drama teacher, B&B landlady, school dinner lady and one-time magician’s assistant Jane Hoggar was determined to laugh in the face of cancer. As she went through the gruelling, bewildering, scary process of diagnosis and treatment she focused on finding fun in serious situations.

Now she has written the book she wanted to read. It began as a blog, written day-by-day as she negotiated the difficult, and not obviously hilarious, events and decisions around breast cancer treatments, outcomes and side-effects. Chemo Summer, illustrated by her artist daughter, Holly Bishop, tells the story of her diagnosis, care and cure.

Jane had long feared breast cancer as both her mother and grandmother were treated for, and survived, the disease. She had already asked doctors to check out several potential lumps, over the years, when she noticed what she describes as a “saggy breast.”

“It was actually an appointment for my husband, for a knee problem,” says Jane. “On the way out I said, ‘Could you just have a quick look at my tits!?’ One was saggy and one was perky, so I thought it wasn’t just going south because of my age!”

Steve and Velma holding the fort, an illustration by Holly Bishop for her mum's book, Chemo Summer Steve and Velma holding the fort, an illustration by Holly Bishop for her mum's book, Chemo Summer

That was three years ago. Since then 51-year-old Jane has had a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy – and turned the blog which helped her get through it all into her first book. “When I was diagnosed, I was very shocked, obviously,” says Jane. “You immediately fear the worst. It’s a natural human reaction. I wasn’t scared of dying, but the thought of my children having to cope with me dying was too much to bear.”

The blog began as a way to update concerned friends and family. “I was getting exhausted, ringing everyone to talk through what was happening each day. With this they could simply log in and read,” said Jane. “I started enjoying writing it, finding anecdotes, ticking the days off as I went through chemotherapy.”

Jane and her maths professor husband, Steve Bishop, recently returned to East Anglia, where they both grew up. “We found a house we fell in love with on Harleston High Street,” said Jane. She is about to start children’s dance classes in the town and says: “I didn’t realise how much I would love coming home.”

Her own dance career began with ballet school. Too tall for a career in ballet she became a Bluebell Girl in Paris. “It was amazing! We were treated like celebrities around the world,” says Jane. “I did can-can shows in France and Italy and got myself into a bit of trouble in Japan, and had to escape from a spa hotel in the mountains in the laundry van! When you are a dancer you can’t pick and choose,” she says. “If you want to work on stage you have got to roll up your sleeves and take what’s offered. I’ve worked as a magician’s assistant. I always just about managed to get out of the apparatus in one piece, but laddered my tights every time! You have to be flexible, not just physically, but in your attitude too.”

Polly Bishop, who illustrated her mum's book Chemo Summer Polly Bishop, who illustrated her mum's book Chemo Summer

She was living in London, and auditioning for West End shows, when she met her husband-to-be.

Many years later she and Steve found themselves sitting, side-by-side in front of a mirror, about to choose a wig for Jane.

“I had always wondered what I would look like bald. I was hoping it might be like Sinead O’Connor but it was more like Kojak!” says Jane.

It is just one of the many anecdotes which brings laughter to Chemo Summer.

“I needed a book that would cheer me up and make me realise that there are lots of people going through the same and that they don’t necessarily die, very few people die,” says Jane. “It’s not all bad news. Breast cancer, if it’s caught early, they can help you. I don’t have cancer now.”

She hopes the book will help other people through cancer and take the fear out of talking about cancer.

She also believes it could save lives. When a friend admitted missing a mammogram appointment Jane encouraged her to rebook and an early cancer was detected in time for it to be treated. “That’s a good example of why we must talk about it,” she said, “although my husband did ask me to stop checking myself for lumps in restaurants!”

Chemo Summer costs £7.99 and can be ordered through bookshops or online.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other EDP Norfolk Magazine visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by EDP Norfolk Magazine staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique EDP Norfolk Magazine account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

A coastal walk is even better if you can stop off at a lovely café along the way

Read more
Yesterday, 17:00

We have eight family tickets (family day tickets for two adults and two children) worth £35 each to be won

Read more
Yesterday, 12:28

Norfolk offers a wealth of historic houses and National Trust properties to visit, perfect for a family day out or a fun weekend activity. We pick the mansions, halls and enchanting estates worth a peek

Read more
Mon, 17:18

Highlights of historic Lynn range from a feast of festivals to priceless treasure and inspired illuminations

Read more
Mon, 10:36

Such is the appeal of Norfolk’s magnificent coastline, it isn’t always that easy to find a quiet spot especially during the summer months – but there are still a few hidden gems where you can escape the crowds. Here are our secret seven seaside spots to savour. Shhh we don’t want everyone to know!

Read more
Friday, May 11, 2018

Norfolk’s coastlines provide walks with endless stretches of beaches, marshes and open skies. We’ve gathered some top walks with fantastic pubs along the way

Read more
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Step into a world of ancient woodland, primeval plants and peaceful waterways and discover the enchanted world of Fairhaven Garden. Annie Green-Armytage falls under its spell

Read more
May 2018
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

This month we’re with Norfolk Ramblers for an amble around Banham

Read more
April 2018
Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Discover Norfolk’s beautiful bluebell woodlands this spring as we pick 10 of the best places to visit for a relaxing stroll among the violet heads

Read more
Monday, April 16, 2018

Writer and mother of two Kate Blincoe faces a plastic-free week with her family. How hard could it be?

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Norfolk's trusted business finder

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search