AN MSP, whose wife is battling breast cancer, will take on a gruelling challenge for a charity that supported his family.
Richard Lochhead, nationalist MSP for Moray, will take part in Etape Loch Ness 2016, a challenging 66-mile bike ride, to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, who supported his wife Fiona after she discovered she had cancer.
I’ve signed up for Team Macmillan as having watched the support Fiona has had over the last few months from cancer charities, it brings home just what am amazing job they do.Richard Lochhead, MSP
Mum-of-two Fiona, 43, has publicly shared the story of her shock diagnosis to encourage other women to take time to check their breasts.
Now her husband Richard, 46, is showing the couple’s gratitude to Macmillan, the official charity partner of Etape Loch Ness, by fundraising for the charity.
“It just made perfect sense,” said Richard, who is minister for rural affairs, food and the environment,
“2016 is my year for serious cycling so I have signed up for my first ever etape.
“I’ve signed up for Team Macmillan as having watched the support Fiona has had over the last few months from cancer charities, it brings home just what am amazing job they do. Seeing how much comfort Fiona has had from what they do means a lot.
“It looks like an amazing route and I know people who have done it and recommend it. It will be a good challenge and at the same time I will be able to enjoy the beautiful Highland scenery.”
Etape Loch Ness taking place on April 24, less than two weeks before the Scottish Parliamentary Elections but this hasn’t put Mr Lochhead off – in fact he will be encouraging fellow MSPs to dig deep into their pockets to support his cause.
“Despite the fact that it is just before the elections I am determined to go ahead with it. I’ve never asked my MSP colleagues before, so I am hoping that they will give generously!”
The couple, who have two sons Angus, 12, and Fraser, 7, have been overwhelmed by the amazing support they have received since Fiona’s diagnosis from family, friends, cancer charities and support groups.
Primary school teacher Fiona says that self-examination wasn’t part of her routine, and she discovered a lump in her breast by chance.
She underwent surgery to have the tumour removed in October last year and this was followed by chemotherapy, which has caused her to lose her hair.
Chemo will continue until around March then she will start radiotherapy and may require a further operation to remove lymph nodes.
She’s spoken out about her experience to make other women more aware of breast cancer and to understand how important self-examination is.
Fiona explains: “The first few days I thought how could I have missed it, but it was obvious – I had not been looking for anything. Then I was angry, I do so many other things to look after my health – I swim, eat well, don’t smoke or drink that much, but I was not doing this one most important thing. I wondered how I could have been so foolish.
“A cancer diagnosis makes everything different and speaking to people who have had similar experiences has helped me. Seeing how people benefit from cancer charities has been brilliant – they really are helping people at a very difficult time.”
Fions said was was proud that Richard is combining getting fit with fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support, adding: “This is a great way for Richard to give something back, as we have benefited so much from the work charities do.”
Richard added: “We feel really privileged and lucky to have these support mechanisms available and something like this gives you a whole new perspective in life. I’m delighted that Fiona and the boys are coming along to Etape Loch Ness to see a middle aged man in lycra cross the finishing line.”
Event director Malcolm Sutherland said: “To see so many people supporting Macmillan Cancer Support is really heart-warming and for Richard, the cause is very close to his heart. We wish Fiona well as she continues her cancer treatment and we hope that politics won’t get in the way of Richard’s training schedule!”
To support Richard, visit https://www.justgiving.com/Richard-Lochhead/
Macmillan Cancer Support has been Etape Loch Ness’ official charity partner since 2014, and so far over £245,000 has been raised to help people affected by cancer. The money raised in 2016 will help fund Macmillan’s services including specialist nurses, financial support for cancer patients, and a nurse-run support line.
Beginning in Inverness, the Etape Loch Ness route follows the A82 along the northern side of the loch, before passing through Fort Augustus onto the south side for the most challenging leg of the course – the King of the Mountain – a 4.8 mile climb which rises to 380m in height. The route then continues around the southern side of the loch before returning to the Highland capital.
For more charity stories, please visit The Scotsman Giving Back