When cancer came back to haunt her again this year, the situation was very different – her husband had died and children moved away.
But, through the support of her local Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Mrs Morrison has once again been able to get on with her life and find new friends at the same time.
The 56-year-old from Burntisland was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 36.
“I was working part-time as a school nursery cook. They had this women’s health bus and none of the mothers would go. The headteacher said to me if you go maybe someone else will follow. So I mentioned to them that I felt this wee lump and the alarm bells went off.
“They rushed me to the headteacher’s office, phoned my GP and before I knew it I was processed. It was a bit of a shock.”
At the time of the first diagnosis, her children were still in primary school. She had radiotherapy, followed by surgery to remove her ovaries because the hormones were making the cancer grow more quickly.
“There were no Maggie’s Centres at that point so you were just left to get on with it,” she said.
The main support she received was from her family and friends as she went through the treatment.
This worked well, and after regular check-ups for several years she was given the all-clear.
But the family faced further trauma when her husband Bill became ill a few years ago and died with fibrosis of the lungs in May 2010.
Mrs Morrison had just started to get her life back together when she received more devastating news – she had breast cancer again. Almost a year after her husband’s death, in May this year, she found out that she would need a mastectomy to treat the disease.
“It was a horrible coincidence that it was the same cancer on the same side,” she said. “It was still in the early stages so I still think I am very lucky.”
But her second experience of cancer was in many ways very different to the first.
“This time there was no Bill to tell me I’d be OK and it would be fine,” she said. “I just felt totally bereft. It was almost like going through bereavement again.”
Her daughter, whose husband is with the army in Afghanistan, travelled to see her while she was having her treatment.
“It has been a horrendous time for the family, because you worry but you don’t want to put that on them,” Mrs Morrison said.
“You have to try to stay strong and pretend you’re OK. That’s where Maggie’s comes in because you can tell them you’re not OK or you’re having a good day or a bad day and laugh or cry and nobody judges. It is such a safe place to be.”
Mrs Morrison said she did not go to Maggie’s straight away, but eventually a friend went along with her and she realised this was a place that could help her.
“Whenever I’m at that end of town now, I can call in for a cup of tea,” she said.
Mrs Morrison has now finished her treatment and has to wait another six months for her next check-up. She said Maggie’s would help support her during that time.
“I now go about once a week and sometimes a bit more,” she said. “I go to the relaxation sessions and it is a lovely wee group, and then we just sit, chat and have coffee.”
HOW TO DONATE
Donate a one-off gift of £1.50 by texting MAGG15 to 70070
0300 123 1801 and quote Scotsman Christmas Appeal
Maggie’s Cancer Centres are celebrating their 15th birthday. The first centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996, and there are now 15 beautifully designed centres either established or in development across the UK. From the Highlands to London, Maggie’s Centres help thousands of people find clarity and calmness in the isolation of their cancer journey through a bespoke and specialised programme. Help celebrate their 15th year and support the care that helps thousands of Scots.