Aberdeen mother-of-two leads cancer unity campaign

Allana Murray, 30, and her sister Pamela Soutter (right), 33. Picture: PA
Allana Murray, 30, and her sister Pamela Soutter (right), 33. Picture: PA
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A MOTHER-OF-TWO who had both breasts removed to beat cancer is leading a campaign to raise funds to fight the disease.

Pamela Soutter, 33, was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2013 and had a double mastectomy followed by reconstruction that October.

Now cancer free, she has teamed up with her sister Allana Murray, 30, to model new “Unity bands” which are on sale at Cancer Research UK shops for a suggested donation of £2.

The wristband, available in a variety of colours, is made up of two parts which form a knot to represent strength in unity.

The campaign comes as new figures released to coincide with World Cancer Day today show that one in two people in the UK will develop cancer at some point in their lives.

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Mrs Soutter, from Aberdeen, is now looking forward to being a bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding in June and is urging all Scots to buy a Unity band to help beat cancer sooner.

She said: “My sister has been a brilliant support so there’s definitely strength in unity to get through cancer.

“I was prepared for the absolute worst so actually felt relieved when doctors told me the breast cancer had been caught early. But telling someone you love you have cancer can be the hardest conversation and it can almost feel more difficult than having cancer as you worry about how everyone else will feel.

“My sister and I weren’t best friends when we were growing up. I remember when we were kids, I actually put a lock on my wardrobe door to stop my sister borrowing my clothes.

“But we’re so close now. I loved helping my sister go wedding dress shopping and I’m so excited to be bridesmaid for her big day. It feels amazing to be well again to celebrate with her.”

After diagnosis, Mrs Soutter, who is mother to Kieran, 13, and Harrison, three, endured a lumpectomy to remove a lump on the day before her birthday, followed by six cycles of chemotherapy.

News of her illness came as a shock to her oil worker husband Alan, 33, whose mother died from breast cancer in her 30s.

In October 2013, Mrs Soutter decided to have a double mastectomy followed by reconstruction, to help prevent the cancer returning.

Cancer Research UK said the UK’s cancer survival rate has doubled over the last 40 years thanks to research, with around half of patients now surviving the disease for more than 10 years.

However as more people benefit from improved healthcare and longer life expectancy, the number of cancer cases is expected to rise.

The charity said that in Scotland, around 30,200 people are told they have cancer every year.

Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman in Scotland, said: “Cancer is primarily a disease of old age, with more than 60% of all cases diagnosed in people aged over 65.

“If people live long enough then most will get cancer at some point. But there’s a lot individuals can do to make it less likely - like giving up smoking, being more active, drinking less alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight.

“Research is driving up cancer survival but the figures released today show that significant challenges lie ahead.

“With more of us being diagnosed with cancer in future, there’s still so much more to do. That’s why we’re calling on people across Scotland to get a Unity band or make a small donation to Cancer Research UK on World Cancer Day. A small gesture like this can make a truly big difference and help ensure that more families stay together for longer.”

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