‘Maggie’s helped me realise life was not over’

WHEN Carol Morton was diagnosed with cancer 12 years ago, she thought she was facing a death sentence.

Now, having gone through the disease for a third time, the former nurse knows there is life after ovarian cancer, even as she faces the prospect that it could return to strike her again.

Thanks to the help from the Maggie’s Centre in the Highlands, Carol has learned to live with the uncertainty and challenges a cancer diagnosis often brings. And she says she would like to see the Maggie’s model of care extended to cover other diseases, such as heart or lung disease, so other patients with long-term conditions could benefit.

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Scotland on Sunday and sister paper The Scotsman have joined up with Maggie’s for our annual fundraising campaign to help patients live their lives during and after cancer.

Carol, from Inverness, knows better than most how important Maggie’s Centre support can be. She was first diagnosed in 1999, aged 52, when she was living in England.

“I had major abdominal swelling and discomfort, which made me go to the doctors,” she said. “I was referred for scans which confirmed the cancer, followed by surgery and chemotherapy.”

The treatment sent the disease into remission, but in 2003 it returned and Carol had to go through more difficult chemotherapy. Again the cancer was knocked back, only to return in 2007.

“I kind of expected it to return, as it was quite advanced. I knew it was coming, as I know it’s coming again at some point,” she said.

“It would be nice if the doctors were wrong. But it makes you appreciate the time you have got just in case.”

Carol was able to get help and advice during her chemotherapy at the Maggie’s Centre in the grounds of Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

“The chemotherapy is not easy,” she said. “By the end you’re thinking I might manage another one, but I was getting to the point where I was thinking I might have had enough.”

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Maggie’s helped her through the treatment by providing information on what was normal and abnormal with the treatment, and helped her keep a perspective on what was happening to her.

Despite her reservations, Carol has come to accept that even if the cancer does return there is still more that can be done to help.

“When I was first diagnosed, like everyone else I thought ‘I’m going to die’,” she said.

“But now I don’t assume that’s what’s going to happen. There are still a lot of treatments out there that I have not had yet.”

She added: “The outlook was so bleak at the beginning, and I’ve outlived expectations really.

“I’m sure a lot of that is because I have had a lot of support from Maggie’s. It is nice to know they are there if I need them.”

Carol said that as more people lived through cancer it was even more important that they understood there was life after the disease.

“It is important to get the message across to people that you don’t necessarily die from cancer,” she said.

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“One of the things Maggie’s does is help people live with it and not to feel that their lives are over.”

She is convinced that more patients could benefit from services such as Maggie’s – and not just those with cancer.

“The kind of service that Maggie’s offers shouldn’t be just for cancer,” she said.

“Anyone with a chronic illness that affects their quality of life should have access to the relevant support and information for their circumstances.

“While it’s a wonderful thing that Maggie’s do, I feel that’s the kind of service that is needed for other people with other long-term conditions.”


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 helps thousands of people find clarity and calmness in the isolation of their cancer journey through a bespoke and specialised programme. Now Scotland on Sunday, along with our sister paper The Scotsman, is urging readers to give a donation to help Maggie’s celebrate its 15th year and support the care that helps thousands of Scots:

TEXT Donate a one-off gift of £1.50 by texting MAGG15 to 70070

PHONE 0300 123 1801 and quote Scotland on Sunday Christmas Appeal

ONLINE visit www.maggiescentres.org/scotsmanappeal

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