HER tireless dedication to children with cancer and their families has raised thousands, launched a campaign to build a respite centre and even seen her named as Edinburgh’s Citizen of the Year.
But now Lynne McNicoll has her own cancer to battle.
The 58-year-old who is co-founder of the charity It’s Good 2 Give – whose patrons include Dr Who star Peter Capaldi and Olympic medalist Lynsey Sharp – has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Today she said that she was determined to beat cancer and that the health scare has given her a new insight into the feelings of those she has helped for almost a decade.
She said: “I keep telling myself I’m lucky that I live in this city which has a centre of excellence, the Western General, and that I’m an adult dealing with this – imagine having to go through this if you’re a child or a teenager?
“It is scary and having biopsies and scans is very unpleasant, but for a child it must be a thousand times worse.
“I’ve been told it’s a stage one tumour which, if you’re going to have cancer, is the best possible as it’s early and beatable.
“And I am going to beat it. It’s a bit of a bummer and perhaps ironic, but it definitely gives me more insight being on this side of the fence now.”
Lynne, of Craiglockhart, discovered her cancer after finding a lump in her right breast. “At my age I get the three yearly routine mammograms and to be honest I’d got complacent about checking myself. I was in the shower and just remembered I hadn’t done it for a long time – that’s when I found the lump.”
It’s Good 2 Give was launched in 2010 but Lynne had been fundraising for the Teenage Cancer Trust for years before. When her 50th birthday approached she decided to raise £50,000 for the national charity after reading about its work.
Her involvement led her to launch her own charity to support young cancer patients and their families, after seeing the effect cancer has on the whole family.
It’s Good 2 Give gives out packs of essentials for hospital stays to patients and their parents and nutritional snacks for children in Ward 2 of the Sick Kids Hospital.
The charity is planning to start a respite centre, the Ripple Retreat, on the banks of Loch Lomond and is raising £1 million to fund the project. Only £150,000 is outstanding and work is expected to begin in May.
“I have had sleepless nights over the last week but I’ve got so much to do and this diagnosis is not going to stop me,” said Lynne.
Lynne has dealt with the deaths of many children her charity has supported, and she and her husband Ian lost his son – her stepson – Andrew McNicoll three years ago.
He was killed in a crash on the Lanark Road as he cycled to work. The couple have also launched a charity in his name to help make cycling safer.
She said: “Just after Andrew died someone said to me ‘you don’t know how strong you are until strong is the only option’. I have to think of him. To think of the families who have lost children . . .
“I’ve not always been a positive person. I am now.”
Bowel diagnosis dad becomes face of new Unity Bands campaign
A FATHER-of-three diagnosed with bowel cancer just before his 50th birthday has been chosen as the face of a new campaign urging Scots to help save lives.
Stuart Riddell, now 51, teamed up with his children Duncan, 21, Louise, 19, and Claire, 15, to model new Unity Bands – on sale now in a range of colours from all Cancer Research UK shops for a suggested £2 donation.
The wrist band, made up of two parts which form a knot to represent strength in unity, are being launched to mark World Cancer Day on February 4.
Stuart, from Edinburgh, said: “I remember getting that standard letter just before my 50th birthday saying they’d be sending out my bowel cancer screening test.
“I had to call them up to say they didn’t need to send me a test as I already knew the result. I was right in the middle of fighting bowel cancer.
“But since then I’ve urged all my friends to take the free test as it’s a simple test which really could save your life.”
The cancer has not gone completely, but Stuart, who has tests every second month, is upbeat about the future. His family were inspired to raise more than £7500 for Cancer Research UK by taking part in a Race for Life in Edinburgh.
He said: “It was emotional going to watch my daughters run with signs on their back saying, ‘Running for Dad’.”
n Supporters can make a £3 donation to Cancer Research UK by texting UNITE to 70200.