East Lothian cancer survivor welcomes £1.8m funding boost for research

Stuart Riddle, who has incurable cancer. Pic: Lesley Martin
Stuart Riddle, who has incurable cancer. Pic: Lesley Martin
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December last year marked a significant milestone for Stuart Riddell when he celebrated five years since the end of his treatment for incurable cancer.

Mr Riddell, from East Linton, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer just before his 50th birthday in 2013 after rapid weight loss and severe stomach pain.

Now the dad-of-three is welcoming a £1.8 million boost to Scottish cancer research as a Glasgow research hub is set to receive one of the biggest funding grants ever awarded by Cancer Research UK.

The Beatson Institute will receive the funding over the next five years as part of a £19 million investment in a global project to investigate why some cancers are specific to certain tissues and not others.

After his diagnosis, Mr Riddell endured a six-hour operation which successfully removed one tumour, followed by six cycles of chemotherapy then five weeks of combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which took nine months.

Surgeons were unable to cut out the second tumour as it was too close to a major artery but regular check-ups showed no disease progression, and in December 2018, Mr Riddell was told by doctors he was in remission.

He said: “It was a defining moment for me when I was told I’d hit the five-year survivor category. When I got my diagnosis, my wife and I read that the chances of surviving Stage four bowel cancer for five years or more were less than six per cent. But we thought, somebody’s got to survive – why can’t it be me?

“The reason I’m still here is because I responded well to the treatment, and that’s down to research. So it’s fantastic to hear about this funding from Cancer Research UK to help more people beat bowel cancer in the future.

“It’s really encouraging for people like me to know that the research is happening so close to home here in Scotland. It brings some extra comfort and reassurance to know that advances are being made on your doorstep to beat this devastating disease.”

The funding for the ground-breaking project will come from Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge awards, set up to revolutionise the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

The Glasgow scientists are part of a team of researchers from Manchester, the US and the Netherlands who beat stiff international competition to secure the funding.

The project was selected by an international panel of experts from a shortlist of ten multi-disciplinary collaborations from universities, institutes and industry across the globe.

Professor Owen Sansom, Director of the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, said: “This Cancer Research UK Grand Challenge funding will be transformative.

“It will allow us to work together with some of the best research groups from around the world and to do some really exciting and ambitious research to try and find an answer to this key question about early disease in cancer.”

rohese.taylor@edinburghnews.com