Edinburgh Castle to light up purple to mark World Pancreatic Cancer Day after campaign by determined Scot who lost her mum at the beginning of the pandemic

A daughter who lost her mum to pancreatic cancer in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic is on a mission to turn Scotland purple.

By Caitlyn Dewar
Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 5:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th November 2020, 5:36 pm
Edinburgh Castle is one of the iconic landmarks set to be lit up purple
Edinburgh Castle is one of the iconic landmarks set to be lit up purple

Lesley Irving has been contacting the country’s iconic buildings, bridges and houses, to try to get them to light up purple on Thursday November 19 to mark World Pancreatic Cancer Day.

In Edinburgh, Lesley has managed to secure confirmation that some major landmarks will be lit purple.

Edinburgh Castle, St Andrew’s House, and Waverley Station are all on board to be lit up on Thursday.

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Lesley Irving who lost her mum earlier this year has been campaigning to mark World Pancreatic Cancer day

Lesley’s mum, Pauline, sadly passed away on June 6, after receiving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis just a few months before in February.

Covid-19 restrictions meant that Lesley had to say her last goodbye through a window of Ayrshire Hospice where her mum lived for the last nine weeks of her life.

Lesley said: “The week she was going to die, the hospice pulled her bed up to the window. I’m glad they did, but it was traumatic. I was standing in flowers trying to lean up to a window. I couldn't reach her to hold her hand.”

Pauline, 72, felt unwell at the start of this year, and had been experiencing back pain. Following a scan, she received a pancreatic cancer diagnosis in late February.

Pauline was due to start chemotherapy as the pandemic began, but restrictions cancelled her treatment although she was too unwell at the time.

Lesley added: “With some cancers you might get time but there was no time with mum. In February we were enjoying coffees on a Saturday and within weeks she had been destroyed by pancreatic cancer.”

At an oncologist appointment Pauline was told she could have around three months to live and was offered chemotherapy to extend her life by a possible four months.

Sadly, Pauline’s health deteriorated quickly and when she was due to start chemotherapy the country was about to enter lockdown, she then received a letter to say her treatment was cancelled.

She said: “Mum was such a kind, generous and fit woman, who had very healthy life choices. She was a wonderful mum.”

Earlier this year Lesley started fundraising and has already raised over £5000 to be split between Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland and Ayrshire Hospice. She also sourced PPE for Ayrshire Hospice at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lesley is determined to keep raising awareness and hopes that shining a purple light around Scotland will reach more people and get them talking about pancreatic cancer.

She added: “When I felt lost, I thought I was best doing something positive, and I’m determined to keep going. I hope that through fundraising and raising awareness we can help other people as more needs to be done to create better outcomes for patients.”

Murray Easton, head of fundraising and supporter relations for Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland said: “'Lesley's passion and determination to raise funds and awareness is inspiring. Pancreatic Cancer Action Scotland is determined to ensure that the 2020's is the decade of change for pancreatic cancer and our supporters will play a huge role in that.

"Lesley's energy and efforts to raise awareness about the symptoms might just be the spark that results in an earlier diagnosis, which greatly enhances the chances of survival. We are extremely grateful for Lesley's support."

To read more or to donate, you can visit Lesley’s Just Giving Page.

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