A WOMAN took her own life in York, exactly a year after being diagnosed with breast cancer, an inquest heard.

Christine Byard started suffering from depression after undergoing chemotherapy but was determined to recover from her mental illness and was admitted to The Retreat in York for treatment in June, 2004.

She then became an inpatient at Bootham Park Hospital following an overdose.

The inquest was told that she remained committed to getting well and even made future plans, but was plagued by a residual anxiety which led her to self-harm on a number of occasions.

On September 9 last year, she triggered the fire alarm and fled Bootham Park through a fire escape.

A York St John college student found her body later that day, hanging by a sheet from a beam in his garage, which had not been locked. The word "sorry" was written on the floor.

Mrs Byard, who was a director with Thomas Cook Travel, lived in Rutland with her husband, Mark, but had family in York.

Mr Byard told the inquest she had been in severe pain for months with a slipped disc, and then discovered a lump in her breast. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2003.

"Before the December, she was coping fairly well with the back pain and breast cancer," he said.

"She was a very vibrant person, very hard-working, very focused. She certainly saw the back problem as something she could overcome. Even when she was initially diagnosed with breast cancer, although it was a shock, she was determined to get herself well."

But signs of depression started to appear in December. In June, he said the help of The Retreat was sought after Mrs Byard had twice taken overdoses of tablets.

"After the second dose of chemotherapy that was quite a defining moment," said Mr Byard.

"She spent five days literally rolling around the floor in pain. I remember her talking about feeling suicidal; that she couldn't go on."

He added: "The day she died was the anniversary of the day she was told she had the breast cancer."

After hearing evidence from the Bootham Park ward manager and Mrs Byard's psychiatrist, York coroner Donald Coverdale said he could not record a verdict of suicide because he was "not satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that she intended to take her life".

"She was committed to recovery from her illness. She was happy to undergo medical treatment in the form of hospital admission along with medication and therapy."

Instead, he recorded a narrative verdict, saying: "She took her life by her own hand. There's reasonable doubt whether she had a genuine intention to end her life at that time on that day."

Updated: 12:36 Saturday, May 14, 2005