17 May 2023
Inside the life of the Lord Mayor of Southampton: An exclusive insight into why Councillor Jacqui Rayment supported Southampton Hospitals Charity during her mayoral year, raising over £7,000 following both her husband, Marc, and her treatment for cancer in 2022.
“I’ve been a councillor for 27 years, and last year I became the 800th Mayor of Southampton, and the first Lord Mayor, an honour bestowed by HRH The Queen during her Jubilee year.
In the run up to the mayor’s position, you become the Sheriff of the city and decide upon the charities you are going to support when you become mayor.
I had my two charities selected, then events took on a life of their own in November 2021.
My partner Marc, then 62, did a routine bowel screening test. The results came back just before Christmas, and we were told he had cancer. We spent an anxious Christmas together as a family, waiting to find out more.
We were referred to University Hospital Southampton (UHS) and saw the consultant in January. After tests and scans, they performed surgery in March to remove the cancerous part of his bowel and connected a stoma bag while the area healed.
He remained in hospital for 18 days and thankfully was well enough to attend my mayor-making celebration on 18 May.
Both my husband and I are great believers of the power of the mind, and that everything happens for a reason.
Just before my ceremony, I went to a quarterly appointment at UHS.
It was after this routine scan that doctors picked up that I had a kidney problem, likely cancer of the kidney.
I was about to start the most momentous year of my life, so this came as complete shock to me.
I didn’t tell anyone else about the diagnosis until I had more information and continued with my mayoral duties. It was at this time I discovered I was being made the first Lord Mayor by the Queen, so there was even more pressure.
Scans showed that the tumour was around 3mm on my kidney, and I had regular scans to monitor it. Following the July scan, I had a phone call saying that they needed to perform surgery as soon as possible as it was growing considerably.
Thankfully, I didn’t need a transplant which would have meant I was off work for up to three months. Instead, I was referred for a kidney ablation.”
Kidney tumour ablation is a treatment which uses the method of freezing to kill cancer cells.
Jacqui continues, “It was incredible. I had my surgery on the Monday afternoon, then was sent home to recover on the Tuesday, being told to rest for the rest of the week.
I was amazed. It wasn’t even keyhole surgery, it was all done through the size of a pin-prick. It completely blew me away that surgery could be performed that invasively. I didn’t even need a plaster on it afterwards! I spent the rest of the week resting.
I had been invited to a cancer conference on the Saturday by a local radio station, and it was mainly made up of people who had cancer, but had missed appointments, and were worried about treatment.
I was feeling near-normal, so I told the radio station I would attend the conference, though for a shorter time so I didn’t overdo things.
On the day, I stood on the stage, and I told my husband and my cancer story. Nobody believed that I had surgery only five days ago! It floored the audience. I showed them that cancer is not the death sentence that they all thought it was.
After my speech, there was one man who stood out. He told me that he had prostate cancer and had missed every follow-up appointment as he was worried. After my speech, his daughter then emailed me a few weeks later saying that he was having treatment.
I believe you go through what you do for a purpose, and if I saved one life, then it will have been worth it.
With everything going on, it has been a real whirlwind of a year. Now, nearly a year on from our treatment, Marc has had eight rounds of chemotherapy, and we’ve both been told we are in remission.
It is strange to think that in January 2022 neither of us has begun our cancer journey, and by January 2023, both of us have had the all-clear!
I am a great believer in fate, and we are so lucky to have University Hospital Southampton on our doorstep. This is why in my mayoral year I also chose to include Southampton Hospitals Charity as one of my chosen charities.
I step down from this role on 17 May and am delighted to have raised over £7,000 for each of my chosen charities.