Runner trains for race with son mother never met

Stephanie Nolan and son Walker. Picture: Lesley MartinStephanie Nolan and son Walker. Picture: Lesley Martin
Stephanie Nolan and son Walker. Picture: Lesley Martin
CRADLING her newborn son in her arms, Stephanie Nolan was filled with joy mixed with a terrible sadness.

The 25-year-old and her husband Kieran welcomed their son Walker in September last year, months after her beloved mum Gillian Young lost her battle with ovarian cancer.

Gillian, 41, hung on to be by Stephanie’s side at her wedding in North Berwick in 2011 but sadly passed away before meeting the grandson she had longed to know. Now Stephanie, of Prestonpans, is running Race for Life to stop other families having to endure similar heartache.

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She said: “The five years she lived after being diagnosed with cancer were the hardest in my life but when I look back I am thankful she kept fighting for so long. She only gave up her fight and took her last breath after she had seen me marry the man she had prayed so hard for me to meet.”

Doctors diagnosed Gillian with cancer when she went for a hysterectomy at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in 2009. She underwent chemotherapy and took part in a new treatment trial at the Western General Hospital but the spread of the cancer could not be stopped.

Knowing that time was running out, Stephanie and her long-time partner Kieran set a date for their wedding and invited Gillian to help plan their big day. But Gillian, a dedicated nursery assistant who loved children, had often said how much she wanted to become a grandmother.

Stephanie said: “The day I have missed my mum the most since she died was when my wee boy Walker was born. All mum went on and on about was how she couldn’t wait to become a grandmother, so when that finally happened, I have never cried so hard.”

Stephanie has been out training three times a week for the 10K Race for Life event, including running with eight-month-old Walker in his pram.

She said: “When I started training in January I couldn’t run to the bus stop, but now I am regularly running 5km. It feels like a real achievement.”

There are still places available for 5K and 10K Race for Life events at Holyrood Park, in Edinburgh, on Saturday. Anna Thompson, Cancer Research UK’s Edinburgh event manager, said: “It can be difficult for mums to find the time and inclination for exercise. That’s why Race for Life is so motivating – it gives participants a goal to aim for.”

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