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Cancer race competitors inspired by brave nine-year-old’s story

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Lucy Robertson told runners in Stirling at the first Cancer Research UK Race for Life event of the year that she had to undergo a seven hour operation after it was discovered she had the same gene that had seen her dad diagnosed with cancer

Over 2,500 women took part in the first Race for Life events of the year at the weekend.

A pink army of 1,400 women enjoyed bright sunshine as they participated in Cancer Research UK’s event in South Queensferry on Sunday followed by over 1,100 who took on a 5k course in Stirling.

But it was nine-year old Lucy Robertson who stole the show.

Chosen as the Stirling race’s VIP starter, she stood on stage alongside her dad Gordon and mum Andrea and rallied runners with the story of how she had to have major surgery to cut her risk of developing the same cancer that her dad is fighting.

Speaking with Heart Scotland breakfast presenters Adele Cunningham and Robin Galloway, Lucy said that when she found out she had the same faulty gene that causes medullary thyroid cancer that her dad had, and would need an operation, she cried.

“I felt really nervous the night before the surgery,” she said. “After my operation I couldn’t talk at first but after five minutes I was so hungry I had two packed lunches.

“I remember I was given a Princess Merida dress from the film Brave and I wore it on the hospital ward. I was off school for about three weeks but got lots of get well soon cards from my class.

Cancer Research UK scientist Priya Hari sounded the airhorn at Race For Life South Queensferry
Cancer Research UK scientist Priya Hari sounded the airhorn at Race For Life South Queensferry

“I feel so much better now and only go to hospital for check-ups. I want to be a nurse when I grow up.

“I hope by then there will be even more amazing research in the laboratories so families in the future don’t have to go through this.”

Lucy’s dad was diagnosed in 2012 and had to have a seven-hour operation at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Glasgow to have his thyroid removed then six weeks of radiotherapy every day.

But while recovering from his own treatment, the family was dealt the hammerblow that the cancer he was fighting was genetic and Lucy carried the faulty gene thought to trigger it.

In October 2012, at Ninewells hospital, Lucy had her thyroid removed to help prevent her from developing cancer.

Gordon said: “I cannot begin to describe the agony of discovering that I had unknowingly passed this gene on to my wee princess.

“But in true Lucy style, she tackled the operation with a determined smile and is now fighting fit.

“There are so many people going through cancer. When I was getting radiotherapy there was an appointment every 15 minutes and 12 radiotherapy rooms. The volume of people going through cancer is just staggering but we’re lucky in Scotland to have some of the best care in the world. I’ve got to know the medical staff well over the years and I owe a lot to those extraordinary doctors and scientists.”

Gordon who endured a second operation in 2013 where glands in his neck were removed, now visits the Beatson cancer centre in Glasgow once a month to receive chemotherapy and has fundraised tirelessly to raise more than £23,500 for life-saving research.

Last year, Race for Life’s women-only events raised £2.3 million in Scotland.

Money raised allows Cancer Research UK’s doctors, nurses and scientists to advance research which is helping to save the lives of men, women and children across Scotland.

A spokesperson for Race for Life declared both events at the weekend a great success.

She said: “The support people have shown is absolutely tremendous and we are thrilled so many women took part in Race for Life.

“We want to say a heart-felt thanks to everyone who took part or supported our participants, as well as the wonderful volunteers who helped to make it happen. Sadly, most of us know someone whose life has been touched by cancer. But thanks to the huge progress that has been made in the fight against the disease, more people in Scotland are surviving cancer than ever before.

“Our aim is that one day everyone will beat cancer. The more research we can fund, the sooner that day will come. Now the big day is over, we are asking our supporters to take one last step-by returning the money they have raised so that we can go on funding much needed research.”

 

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