Edinburgh Race For Life 2023: Edinburgh woman who helped mum through cancer diagnosed with same disease

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Carolyn was devastated after finding a dimple and then being told she had the illness.

An Edinburgh woman who watched her mum battle breast cancer has spoken of her heartbreak after she was diagnosed with the same disease.

Carolyn Aitken was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2016 after she contacted her GP about a dimple in her skin. She was just 43 at the time and she said she was devastated about having to break the news to her mum, Maureen, who she had supported through breast cancer treatment in 2004.

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Carolyn, an accountant, said: “I remember crying when I was told I had cancer. The hardest bit was telling my family. My mum had been through cancer so we knew what it was going to entail. Life goes on. It really is hard but if you can find the people who will support you through that difficult time and accept that things in your life will slow down for a while then you’ll get through the other side.”

Carolyn during treatment for triple negative breast cancerCarolyn during treatment for triple negative breast cancer
Carolyn during treatment for triple negative breast cancer

The now-50-year-old underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a mastectomy with reconstruction surgery as part of her treatment. But after suffering complications with her first implant, Carolyn had to go through more surgery. Carolyn said: “I look on 2016 as the year I had three left boobs, my own, the first implant then the new implant.

"There was pain and fatigue. I think it takes years to get over treatment fully and I still don’t feel as fit as I was before I had cancer. But I am definitely one of the lucky ones. We need to keep funding research to find better, kinder treatments.”

During her treatment, Carolyn joined a choir and she said friends she made helped get her through the worst days. "Friends I’d made at Rock Choir were a brilliant support to me when I wasn’t able to go to rehearsals as often as I’d wanted but my friends were there for me, sending me messages and making me laugh,” she said. “When I did go the support was just amazing. No matter how bad a day you are having you’ll always leave a choir rehearsal smiling.”

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Carolyn will join fellow Rock Choir singers to perform at Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life at Holyrood Park, Edinburgh on Sunday June 4, as part of the event’s 30th anniversary celebrations. Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in Scotland said: “We are grateful to Carolyn and to Rock Choir for their support. We’d love for as many people as possible across Scotland to join us during our 30th year of Race for Life. Sadly, cancer affects all of us in some way."

Carolyn says she's one of the lucky onesCarolyn says she's one of the lucky ones
Carolyn says she's one of the lucky ones

Entries are still open for the Race for Life events in Edinburgh including Race for Life on Sunday June 4 at Holyrood Park 5k and 10k or Pretty Muddy on Sunday June 11, at The Meadows. The mud-splattered obstacle course also has a kids option. 

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, raises millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research. To mark the 30th anniversary participants will receive an exclusive medal to mark the milestone.

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