Cath McGilvray was 36 when she discovered a lump in her left breast. Despite undergoing a lumpectomy, followed by radiotherapy, chemotherapy and an experimental stem cell replacement treatment, she died two years later.
Daughters Heather Wilson and Andrea Thomas, who were 17 and 15 at the time, say that while she did everything possible to minimise their grief, the pain of their mother’s death is still difficult to cope with.
Andrea said: “Once our mum knew she was terminal, she prepared us really well for the fact that she was going to die – perhaps too well. She did everything she could to make sure we weren’t sad and I feel that it’s almost like we grieve more now.”
Heather added: “Mum wanted us to celebrate her life rather than mourn her death and insisted we all wear colours to the funeral.
“But as I get older, I feel more and more that I miss my mum and I want her to be there. I suffered from post-natal depression and I think the loss of my mother at such a young age had a lot to do with that.”
Cath had warned her daughters and the other women in her family to be aware of the signs of the disease.
In an interview in 1998, Heather said: “She told us that we have to keep an eye on ourselves. I don’t really worry about developing breast cancer myself at the moment, but it is a frightening thought.”
Fifteen years on, the sisters are happy to report no other cases in the family.
Heather, who lives in Northfield with husband Kevin and children Connor, six, and Laila, one, said: “I’m 32 now and I’m coming up to the age when my mum was diagnosed. You think about these things more when you have kids.”
Andrea also has a son and daughter, Ferne, four, and Aidan, one, and lives in Mid Calder with husband George.
On the masquerade dance plans, Andrea said: “It was Heather’s idea. The only prerequisite is that you have a mask. You don’t need to show up in a ballgown.
“Tickets are £10, £5 of which goes to The Breast Cancer Institute, and you get a glass of fizz and a curry. There will also be an auction, raffle and disco. Celtic have donated a tour of the ground and Manchester United have given us match tickets.
“We’re hoping to raise about £3000 and there will also be a prize for the best mask.”
The dance is at Duddingston Golf Club on October 27.