Kayla Doohan, of Livingston, has fought cancer twice and was just 20 when first diagnosed with the disease after finding a lump in her right breast.
Now cancer free, Kayla gave an inspiring speech from the Race For Life stage and thanked those raising vital funds for Cancer Research UK.
Around 2,000 people stood shoulder to shoulder in defiance of cancer as Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life event got underway at Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park.
For the first time, men also joined the sea of pink streaming around Arthur’s Seat with Edinburgh being chosen to host one of the first of the new charity’s new Race for Life Family 5K events.
Kayla, 32, of Livingston, said: “Cancer can be scary and we all go through days when it feels like life will never get back to normal again.
“But time is a great help and you get there. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time, it was a relief to hear that it hadn’t spread. I knew then that I could get through the treatment as I’d done it before.”
Kayla recovered well after surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Fears that the treatment in 2005 may have left her infertile proved unfounded and Kayla and her partner, Paul Davidson, aged 34, were overjoyed when their daughter Chloe, three, was born.
That’s why it was a hammerblow when tests revealed last July that Kayla was fighting breast cancer for a second time.
Now clear of cancer once again, Kayla – who had both breasts removed in January this year to help prevent a recurrence – is more positive than ever.
She said: “When I faced cancer aged 20, I’d only been with my partner Paul for about a year. I remember saying to him it was okay if he wanted to walk away but he didn’t. He’s been a brilliant support and stuck by me through it all. I asked my surgeon to take both breasts away. I just felt like I didn’t need or want them any more as they had twice tried to kill me.
“I’ve had my daughter Chloe to keep me smiling this year. I’m loving life as a mum. Chloe is so amazing and says the funniest things. I’m so proud to be there for my daughter and I’m determined to capture every single moment.”
Victoria Riddell, aged 23, of Stockbridge, Edinburgh, was the first person home in the 10K Race for Life Edinburgh, completing the challenging course in just 42 minutes.
The 5K event saw Antia Miowcrynska, aged 39, of Granton, Edinburgh, over the line in 25 minutes.
Cancer scientist Dr Evropi Theodoratou, who is based at the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK centre, was chosen as VIP starter for the Race for Life Edinburgh 10K event. Originally from Athens, Greece, Dr Theodoratou now lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two daughters, Rea, five, and Electra, two.
Dr Theodoratou has just been awarded a £1.58 million Career Development Fellowship by Cancer Research UK. She’ll lead a team based at the University of Edinburgh and the Western General Hospital who are researching bowel cancer.
Finding a way to beat cancer through early diagnosis is what drives Dr Theodoratou.
Dr Theodoratou said: “Cancer is a horrible disease. It’s the leading cause of death in the UK and is responsible for far more deaths than any other disease, including chronic heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
“Even though more people are surviving cancer than ever before, more people are getting the disease. It’s becoming an even greater challenge.
“Among the best ways to tackle cancer is to detect it earlier and identify who is at a higher risk of developing the disease. By knowing that we can look in to new and better ways to help people.”
Every hour, around four people are diagnosed with cancer* in Scotland**. The money raised at Race for Life Edinburgh will help Cancer Research UK scientists find new ways to treat cancers and save more lives. Organisers are now urging Scots to return their sponsorship money to help pioneering research.
Race for Life spokeswoman, Linda Summerhayes, said: “We’d like to thank our VIP starters and everyone who came along to make Race for Life Edinburgh so special.
“Sadly, most of us know someone whose life has been touched by cancer. But thanks to the huge progress that has been made in the fight against the disease, more people in Scotland are surviving cancer than ever before.
“Our aim is that one day everyone will beat cancer. The more research we can fund, the sooner that day will come.”
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring series of 5K, 10K, Pretty Muddy and marathon events which raises millions of pounds every year to fund life-saving research. Last year, around 37,600 people took part in Race for Life in Scotland and raised almost £2.5 million.
This year, organisers are appealing for even more people to stride out to beat cancer sooner with Race for Life events across the country, everywhere from Glasgow to Aberdeen, Inverness to Irvine.