Edinburgh dad was ‘fittest he’d ever been’ before cancer discovery

Andrew Slorance with Olivia, left, Millie, right, and Finlay above. Picture: contributed
Andrew Slorance with Olivia, left, Millie, right, and Finlay above. Picture: contributed
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To his family and friends, Andrew Slorance is undoubtedly one in a million.

But last year the father-of-five discovered that he is also one in 500, after being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called mantle cell lymphoma.

Andrew Slorance is now in remission. Picture: contributed

Andrew Slorance is now in remission. Picture: contributed

Before his diagnosis in November, Andrew was the fittest he had been in years, after giving up booze and losing three stone through his passion for cycling.

Yet his wife Louise, 40, noticed he had been sleeping more than usual on a family holiday, so the discovery of a pea-sized lump in his groin prompted him to see his GP.

Within days doctors discovered he had incurable blood cancer, which had spread to his intestines.

What followed was a blur of treatment, as the 45-year-old underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant to fight the cancer.

Throughout his treatment Andrew has sought help from Maggie’s, particularly to help his youngest children Millie, 9, Olivia, 7, and Finlay, 5, to understand what was happening to their dad.

Since opening 20 years ago, Maggie’s has helped thousands of cancer patients and their families through some of their darkest moments.

The Evening News has teamed up with the charity and fundraiser Lisa Stephenson to fund a £1.2m extension for the centre at the Western General Hospital.

The appeal has already smashed through the halfway mark, thanks to a £160,000 donation from the supermarket chain Morrison’s, putting Maggie’s a step closer to its goal of seeing an additional 5,000 patients per year.

He was particularly worried about how Olivia and Millie would cope with the news as both girls had both struggled with forms of anxiety.

Andrew, who chronicled his cancer battle in a popular blog, said: “We didn’t want to hide things but we wanted some advice on how to deal with. We felt Maggie’s might be able to offer us something there and boy, did they deliver.

“The kids knew daddy had cancer. They knew I was popping in and out of hospital and they knew I had stopped work. All of this was a big change for them.

“Maggie’s was hugely motivational for me and hugely beneficial for my family. For the children in particular, it has played a massive part in helping them deal with what could have been a hugely challenging year.

“When they see it on TV or in the paper, they ask if it is ‘our Maggie’s’.

“Children shouldn’t enjoy a place associated with cancer but my children do because they get something precious out of it.”

The children fell in love with the building, exploring its nooks and crannies and bringing their homework so they could wait for their dad while he had treatment.

The two girls also took part in one of Maggie’s Kids Days, where they could learn about cancer from medics and meet other children in a similar situation.

Andrew said: “The building provided them with a sort of sanctuary, where they could go have a wander, go have a nose, get a bit of peace and quiet.

“We were always made welcome. It’s not just there for the patient, it’s there for the patient’s family or the patient’s friends. For anybody who feels affected by cancer.”

Andrew, of Liberton, is now in remission and he was thrilled to be able to return to working part time at the Scottish Government last month.

He also plans to raise more money to support Maggie’s, after raising more than £6,500 in a 5km run around the Meadows between bouts of chemotherapy.

Although his cancer could return, staff at Maggie’s helped him to address his fears and offered him hope of life after cancer.

He said: “I’m not daft, I know it will return at some point but I take a positive outlook.

“This has been part of the discussions I’ve had at Maggie’s, about not panicking if something doesn’t feel right.

“It’s about getting the balance right.”

To read more about Andrew’s journey, visit www.sloranceblog.wordpress.com.