JUST two years ago, Rowan Lumsden feared she would never be able to sing again.
The 26-year-old had undergone two operations to remove her thyroid gland after doctors found cancerous cells lurking inside an unusual lump on the side of her neck.
And the single mum – a passionate singer and musician – was left devastated when scarring from the operation affected her windpipe, trachea and vocal cords, leaving her struggling to talk above a whisper.
It took months of practice for her to fully regain the ability to speak. But now, two years on and after an intense period of radioactive iodine treatment to battle the cancer, she has just been given the all-clear – and is about to release her first single with new band, Keepers Bank.
Rowan, from West Calder, insisted it was “just amazing” to be able to use her voice again, but admitted she was a long way from complete recovery.
“I feel like this is me coming out of the woods now and into the light,” she said. “Looking back at my life, it’s not been the best, but this is my opportunity now. It’s like something bad happens and something good comes out of it. Everything happens for a reason.
“Because I’ve had one operation and then another operation, it’s caused a lot of irritation in the vocal cords. I couldn’t put any pressure on my voice at all – if I tried to raise it, it just wouldn’t work. It was just a constant whisper.
“I really didn’t think I was going to get my voice back, and I really didn’t think I was going to sing again. I was totally heartbroken. When you hear the word cancer, it does scare you. You get extremely scared by it. It was totally unknown what was going to happen.
“But the more I use my voice, the better it’s getting. I’m still trying to rehabilitate it. It’s not back to 100 per cent but it’s getting there, and the band is certainly helping me with that.”
Keepers Bank formed at the end of last summer after Rowan was introduced to rhythm guitarist and co-songwriter Tony Gibson through her mum.
And with lead guitarist Yves Martins and bassist Chris Robson soon on board, things quickly started to come together.
The group will be releasing their first single, Chasing Rainbows, on Wednesday, with their debut album set for release in May this year – and Rowan has high hopes they’ll soon be headlining some of the country’s biggest stages.
“I’m grateful now that I’m actually able to do what I want to do,” she said. “I was doing a lot of singing before the operations, but I wasn’t in a band or anything like that. I did a lot of karaoke and playing guitar in my room, but I wanted to be a singer and pursue my dreams.”
And manager Brian Martin shares Rowan’s bold ambitions for the future.
He said: “For her to be able to pull through after what she’s gone through, and come into the studio and sing the way she has, is just amazing. I’ve got a lot of faith in this act and I think they’ll do really well.”