WHEN Amy McLaughlan completed her first 10k race in June last year, her initial reaction was relief. But that emotion was quickly replaced by determination.
By the end of September, the 33-year-old insurance worker from Troon, with no real experience of endurance running, had completed 10 of the events in under 100 days.
She admitted she was “scunnered” with the process by the time she crossed the final finishing line.
It was the death of her father, John, from a brain tumour that drove her on to complete her challenge. The support of friends and family, many of whom joined her in races, also helped.
Together, they have raised an incredible £20,000 for brain cancer research - and now plan to raise the same amount again this year.
Today is the start of brain cancer awareness month and Amy and her family will be helping to spread the word on an often misunderstood condition.
“Dad didn’t have any symptoms until the last minute,” she said. “He was diagnosed in May last year and operated on fairly quickly, and then treated at the Beatson. But the treatment didn’t go well and he passed away in August. It was all very quick.”
Tragically, John had only recently retired from a 40-year career as a civil servant with the Department of Work and Pensions in Kilmarnock. His sudden ill-health shocked all those who knew him.
“I had never known my dad to be sick,” Amy added. “He was very fit and healthy, always out swimming or walking. He had only just retired. We thought we had at least another 20 years with him.”
As her dad was undergoing initial treatment, Amy decided she had to do something to help others in a similar position.
“You feel a bit helpless,” she said. “He was already receiving all the medical help he could get. “So, to me, it was a natural reaction to try and fundraise, to fight back a little bit.
“My dad was well-liked, and the campaign has grown arms and legs. Within six months, we raised around £17,500. I was really surprised. I was hoping for about £500 when I started.”
Amy, with the support of mum Rosie and sisters Suzy and Clare, established the Small but Mighty Fund. All cash raised goes to the Brain Tumour Charity, with the family specificing it must be used on research.
More than 5000 people die from a brain tumour in the UK each year, with 27 new cases diagnosed each day. But only two per cent of the total funds raised to fight cancer annually is spent on brain tumours.
Amy continued: “We started the fund in June. At the same time, my boyfriend’s cousin was also diagnosed with exactly the same type of brian tumour as my dad. It was all very sudden. It was missed by his GP. Around 53 per cent of people are diagnosed in A&E, which obviously delays the potential time for treatment.”
Amy began running with her dog Maisie - the fund’s mascot - around two years at events organised by Cani-Fit.
“I’m not much of a runner, truth be told, she said. “But I didn’t think I could ask people to sponsor me to do a 5k. After I did my first, I thought, you know what, I’ll do 10. The first 10k I did was at Bannockburn on June 21, on father’s day. It was the only one my dad got to see.
“I finished on September 27. I was totally scunnered with it, to be honest. But the fact friends had signed up to do races with me, helped me through it.”
For more information on the Small but Mighty Fund, visit its page at the Brain Cancer Charity website.