Young Livingston mum to front health campaign after US cancer treatment
A BRAVE Livingston mum who travelled to America for treatment for a rare cancer in her spine has been chosen as the face of a new campaign to save lives.
Linda Halliday, 35, had to learn to walk again after having a tumour removed and 12 weeks of proton beam therapy in Jacksonville.
And now she’s teamed up with her husband Andrew, 36, and children, Jacob, eight, and Isaac, five, to launch World Cancer Day in Scotland on February 4.
The family are urging Scots to wear Cancer Research UK’s Unity band – In memory of a loved one, to celebrate people who have overcome cancer or in support of those going through treatment – with pride.
Linda said: “I was devastated when I was told I had cancer. My first thought was what about my boys? They were still so young. I was determined to do everything in my power to be there for them. The tumour was on my spine and doctors explained that proton therapy was a more targeted form of radiotherapy. Given the very complicated and delicate area where my cancer was this treatment was my best hope.”
Every hour, around four people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland and cash raised from buying Unity bands goes towards life-saving research and treatments.
Linda who teaches at Beatlie school in West Lothian vividly recalls her shock when doctors told her she had cancer. Back pain which was waking her up at night had prompted her to visit the GP and tests at the Western General revealed what doctors at first described as a lesion on her spinal cord. Linda endured a six hour operation to remove as much of the growth as possible and battled for a month to learn to walk again.
Linda said: “The tumour had grown inside the nerve sack on my spine making it difficult to remove.
“The surgeons had to weigh up how much of the tumour to take away to make me comfortable without doing any permanent damage to my legs. I had to really push myself to learn to walk again after the operation. It was so frustrating.”
It was a hammerblow when further tests revealed Linda had a rare cancer called extra skeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma. After further treatment in America, Linda is now home in Scotland enjoying quality time with her boys and loves cheering on her son Jacob as he plays football with Broxburn Juniors.
She added: “The next scan is often at the back of my mind but I’m learning to accept life as it is and deal with it.
“There are so many people out there living with cancer and having normal lives. Of course there are some rubbish days but I’m blessed by many positives too. I’m so proud of the boys and my husband has been a rock through it all. I couldn’t have done it without my parents either. It’s thanks to research I’m still here today making memories. That’s why I want everyone in Scotland to wear a Unity band on World Cancer Day. Just by wearing a Unity band, everyone can help make a real difference to people with cancer.”
Visit Cancer Research UK’s website to purchase your Unity Band.