Inspirational dad Stuart urges scots to unite for World Cancer Day
Inspirational cancer patient Stuart MacDonald has thanked the NHS heroes who helped save his life.
The dad from Glasgow who had to learn to walk again after 55 days in hospital during the pandemic is issuing a call to arms for people across Scotland to help give hope to future generations this World Cancer Day. Stuart, who is an accountant with ScottishPower, says he has lost count of the dozens of NHS staff who were there for him in the toughest of times.
Now Stuart, who completes his final chemotherapy treatment later this month, is encouraging everyone to raise money for life-saving research by donating and wearing a Cancer Research UK Unity Band on Friday, February 4 – which also marks the charity’s 20th anniversary. The band is available online and in Cancer Research UK shops in three different colours - pink, navy and blue. It can be worn in memory of a loved one, to celebrate people who’ve overcome cancer or in support of those going through treatment.
ScottishPower has raised over £30 million for Cancer Research UK through a variety of initiatives and events including sponsorship of Race for Life, Stand Up To Cancer, employee, customer and supplier fundraising, as well as creating bespoke, ‘Help Beat Cancer’ energy tariffs.
Stuart, 59, said: “I owe my life to the wonderful NHS and the amazing quality of care that I received.
“I would guess between 150 and 200 people helped me. From the chap at the front door of the Accident and Emergency department on day one to the patient ambulance driver on day 55, I was helped by them all.
“There were cleaners, caterers, consultants, nurses, doctors, auxiliaries, technicians, dieticians, pharmacists, physiotherapists, an engineer to fix the air filtration system in my hospital room and even an army soldier who drove the ambulance I travelled in when there was a shortage of ambulance staff during the pandemic. I want to thank them.
“Lying in bed for weeks gave me plenty of time to observe and marvel that so many people worked so well together. The NHS is not perfect. No organisation is. But what is astonishing is how good and efficient it is. Not all superheroes wear capes, although they now all wear a mask.”
Stuart who was supported every step of the way on his cancer journey by his wife Jane and son Ross, 25, has lived with the disease since he was first diagnosed in November 2018. When he first experienced blurred vision, he thought he just needed a new pair of glasses. But after Stuart was referred to hospital it was discovered the optic nerves in his eyes were inflamed. More tests revealed Stuart had lymphoma in both eyes, a rare type of eye cancer.*
Stuart said: “I was in a state of shock.
“I struggled to comprehend that this was really happening. I was terrified that I might not get to grow old with my wife or if I did I wouldn’t have my sight to be able to experience it properly with her.”
Fortunately, more investigations showed the cancer was slow growing, steroid injections helped restore Stuart’s sight and with regular check ups he was able to return to work. Determined to help others going through cancer, Stuart raised £2,700 for Cancer Research UK by completing a 10K walk on the beaches of Prestwick, Troon and Ayr on June 12 2021, supported by ScottishPower work colleagues. But in October last year, Stuart developed agonising stomach pains and was advised to attend the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department. It was a hammerblow on October 8 when Stuart was diagnosed with a lymphoma tumour in his stomach.
Stuart said: “The tumour had caused so much damage that the doctors judged I needed to get stronger before I even started the chemotherapy.
“It took two weeks before I was well enough to start treatment and when it finally started the chemotherapy nearly overwhelmed my body. It was a frightening time for my wife and son as there were moments when they thought they might lose me.”
But Stuart slowly improved and three weeks later he had his second chemotherapy session ahead of being transferred to the West of Scotland Beatson Cancer Centre, Glasgow to continue his treatment.
Stuart said: “My hair fell out and I felt dizzy every time I tried to stand up.
“I was confined to bed for so long that when I was eventually well enough to move around I had to learn to walk again. Getting home was the dream that kept me going through these incredibly difficult weeks.”
Finally on December 1 last year, Stuart was discharged before returning on December 3 as an outpatient for his third chemotherapy treatment. This was followed by a fourth treatment on Christmas Eve. After a fifth chemotherapy in January this year, he hopes to complete his final treatment on February 11 ahead of more tests this March which will give information on how well the treatment has worked. This March also marks Stuart and Jane’s 27th wedding anniversary.
Stuart said: “My wife Jane is stronger than I have ever been or ever will be.
“I’m still amazed she dated me, never mind married me. When you enter into a lifelong commitment it’s a bit of a gamble. I know I’m lucky to be on that journey with Jane. We’re both proud of our son Ross who has remained calm, focused and maintained a fantastic sense of humour to keep me smiling even on the difficult days.
“We’ve been through a lot as a family but now if we can help others we will. That’s why we want everyone across Scotland to get one of Cancer Research UK’s Unity Bands. Wearing one is such a simple way to show solidarity with people affected by cancer, while also raising vital funds.”
Every year around 33,200 people are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland**.
Marked on February 4, World Cancer Day is an international initiative, uniting people across the globe to take action against the disease. For Cancer Research UK the awareness day takes on extra significance this year, as it celebrates its 20th birthday. While the charity was formed in 2002, its history dates back to the founding of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in 1902. Its work has been at the heart of some of the biggest developments in cancer, from radiotherapy to some of the most used cancer drugs around the world today.
Now the cutting-edge research it funds has helped lead to more people than ever in the UK surviving their cancer for 10 years or more.
Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman in Scotland, said: “As we mark our anniversary this World Cancer Day, we want to say a heartfelt thank you to Stuart and all employees at ScottishPower for their incredible commitment to the cause.
“Thanks to our supporters, we’ve achieved so much. We are grateful to Stuart’s employer ScottishPower who have raised over £30 million for Cancer Research UK. Thanks to their Help Beat Cancer energy tariff and incredible employee, customer and supplier fundraising, ScottishPower has shown absolute dedication to the partnership over the past 10 years and they should feel immensely proud of this achievement.
“Every day we see the benefits of research we’ve previously funded being realised, helping people live longer and healthier lives. One in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetime***, and so we will never stop striving to create better treatments for tomorrow. That’s why we hope everyone will wear a Unity Band with pride - knowing they are helping to save and improve lives for generations to come. We've come so far. And we will go much further. Together we will beat cancer.”
Cancer Research UK spent nearly £30 million last year in Scotland on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.
Andrew Ward, CEO UK Retail at ScottishPower, said: “We’re delighted to support World Cancer Day 2022 and Cancer Research UK is so close to our customers’ and employees’ hearts.
“In 2012 we began our partnership with the charity and we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved in supporting their life-saving work. Over the past decade our employees like Stuart have taken part in a wide range of fundraising activities and their willingness to get involved has been inspiring. To date we’ve raised over £30 million - and we’re not stopping there!
“We recently hosted an event in Glasgow with Cancer Research UK during COP26 to shine a light on air pollution, the impact it has on cancer and the need for more research into lung cancer in people who have never smoked. This is part of our aim of helping the world decarbonize. We want to create a greener, healthier future for all and by working together, we know we can get there faster.”
Unity Bands are available in Cancer Research UK shops and online at cruk.org/worldcancerday for a suggested donation of £2.