From left, Violet Kendal, Patricia Sexton and Alison Schultz.

A cancer survivor has described how friendship group Oddfellows gave her a new lease of life after retirement left her feeling lost.

Patricia Sexton, 64, had to take early retirement from her teaching career at the age of 53 after she was diagnosed with the disease.

“I had absolutely no interest in retiring. I loved helping people and loved my job,” said Mrs Sexton, of King’s Lynn. 

“Having had cancer still affects me, it was devastating. I dread it coming back and I can’t have a pain without worrying.

“But on top of that trauma, I could no longer hold the career that I loved. I felt at a complete loss,” she said.

Three years ago, on the recommendation of a friend, Mrs Sexton attended a lunch club run by her local Oddfellows group and began to form new friendships.

She said since joining she was busier than ever; caring for others “because she wants to, not because it pays the bills”.

Mrs Sexton now helps to run the King’s Lynn and West Norfolk branch, organises social events, carries out welfare visits to other members and holds a seated exercise class.

“I thought of retirement as just sitting around and doing nothing, I couldn’t have been more wrong,” said Mrs Sexton.

“I’ve now learned that it isn’t about putting your feet up, it’s about enjoying yourself and having the time to care for others. 

“My attitude is that I look at things that I can do, rather than those I can’t.”

Oddfellows, which offers friendship and support, has 121 branches.

To join, call 0800 028 1810, email or