West Lothian woman battling cancer to run marathon for her mum

A West Lothian woman with incurable cancer is gearing up to run a marathon for her her 65-year-old mum who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Sunday, 28th March 2021, 1:30 pm

Heather Duff who endured three surgeries to remove two brain tumours after overcoming cervical cancer said it was “a complete shock” when mum Alma was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February.

The 34-year-old hopes her experience fighting the disease will help her to support Alma, who is undergoing treatment after a craniotomy.

Inspired by her mum who she described as “the strongest person I know” Ms Duff is gearing up to run a ‘stay at home’ Race for Life in her local park next month, after the charity’s summer Race events had to be postponed due to covid-19.

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Heather Duff is urging people to support Race for Life at home
Heather Duff is urging people to support Race for Life at home

Ms Duff, from Winchburgh, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014. After successful treatment the talented hockey player who had run the London marathon thought she’d put the disease behind her. She gave up her job in sports development to work her dream job as a fundraiser for CRUK.

But a few years later she was told she had a brain tumour. After suffering a seizure in May 2018, CT scans revealed a lesion.

Ms Duff had a nine hour operation at the the city’s Western General Hospital. More tests revealed a second tumour and she had two more surgeries, after the tumour had grown.

Ms Duff said: “Cervical cancer at 27 was harsh. Losing my fertility, being pushed in to the menopause and all the side effects was tough.”

Heather and Gordon on their wedding day Pic: Craig Muir

"A brain tumour four years later and discovering not one but two tumours was a reminder that life sometimes isn’t fair. When I found out about mum we asked if it was genetic but the consultant said, it’s just very bad luck.”

"It proves cancer just doesn’t stop. After four surgeries in 18 months I had no energy. But I feel much better now and am back to work full time. Last week a scan showed that my cancer is stable. I feel lucky that treatment helped me. I built up my strength and fitness during lockdown.”

“More than ever I feel strongly that I want to do all I can to raise money for research. It was a complete shock to find out mum had a tumour. I feel so helpless. I would do anything I could to take it away so she doesn’t have to go through it.”

"It’s harder for mum in a way because she wasn’t allowed visitors at hospital due to covid-19. That contact with friends and family can make such a big difference. But mum is the strongest person I know.”

Heather with her miniature dachshund Parsnip

Ms Duff who has fronted an appeal for the charity as they face a 30 per cent drop in income due to the pandemic will finish a 5k at Beecraigs park with husband Gordon and her miniature dachshund pet dogs, Pumpkin and Parsnip on April 24.

CRUK is urging determined supporters to join Ms Duff and do their own Race for Life outdoors either alone or in small, socially distanced groups. The 5K and 10K events were due to take place at Hopetoun House, South Queensferry on Sunday July 18 but a spokesperson said they hope to have the events in the autumn instead.

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