THE memory of a teenager who died after battling cancer is to be celebrated with a £50,000 fundraising mountain challenge for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Fiona Walker was just 19 when she passed away, less than a year after being diagnosed with a glioblastoma of the central nervous system.
Now friends are to tackle the Three Peaks Challenge for the charity, which is fundraising for a specialist unit at the Western General for young cancer sufferers.
Fiona, from Gullane, first became ill in her last year at school when she suffered from numbness in her leg. Her mother Claire, a GP, was first to examine her and said it took specialists around six months to find out what was wrong.
She said: “The doctors were doing as well as they could, but it wasn’t until it had grown to a size that they could see on a scan that they knew that she didn’t have multiple sclerosis.”
When doctors did a biopsy, they discovered it was a particularly aggressive form of tumour.
Fiona underwent six weeks of radiotherapy, followed by chemotherapy.
She was treated on adult wards at the Western, with her family looking after her at home whenever they could, because she hated hospital so much.
Mrs Walker said: “The chemotherapy unit is horrible. You’re in with lots of other people, half of whom have got no hair, everyone’s a lot older than you – Fiona developed quite a fear of being in hospital.
“It would make it a much easier experience if there was a dedicated unit for teenagers.”
She remained a sociable, fun-loving girl throughout her illness and full of her own opinions, her mother said.
She added: “It was the most terrible age to have it, just as she hoped to set off and be more independent and most of her friends were going to university.
“But she was great. We cried a lot together and grieved while she was still alive, I think.”
She died on November 27, ten days after suffering a seizure, which was followed by a swift decline in her condition.
Fiona, who attended Gullane Primary, Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar and latterly Glenalmond College in Perth, where she was head girl, gave her seal of approval to friends’ fundraising efforts before she passed away.
Her mother added: “It’s great that everyone’s funnelling their energy into something so productive. Fiona would have been very proud.”
The challenge on June 30 will see the group taking on Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon within 24 hours.
It is not the only fundraiser being held in Fiona’s memory.
Her former boyfriend Jock Brooke and friend Iona Walker have raised nearly £40,000 for their plan to complete the Highlands and Islands Challenge on June 28.
To sponsor the team, see http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/fionaswalkers. For the Highlands and Islands Challenge, see www.justgiving.com/jockbrooke.