Ayrshire cancer survivor whose husband died from the disease chosen to launch fundraiser
A woman whose husband died from cancer while she was being treated for the disease has been chosen to launch a major cancer research fundraising campaign.
Shona MacLaren, 34, was undergoing treatment for cervical cancer when her husband Will was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer.
The IT director and Ayrshire Tornado basketball coach died aged 41 on September 1 last year, just nine days after diagnosis, leaving behind the couple’s children Thea, now five, and Mason, now one.
Mrs McLaren, of Stevenston, North Ayrshire, said: “My children mean the world to me and it’s incredibly tough knowing they’ll grow up without their dad.
“Will was my rock, my everything.
“He was a brilliant dad and our daughter Thea was a real daddy’s girl. It’s unfair that only two weeks after he took our daughter to school for the first time, we lost him.
“Although he’s gone from sight, he will always be in our hearts.
“I can’t explain why I survived cancer and Will didn’t. I suffer from survivor’s guilt that I am here and Will isn’t.
“We both kept fit, we didn’t smoke and rarely drank. What should have been one of the happiest times in our lives as a young family became the stuff of nightmares.”
Mrs MacLaren (pictured with Thea) was diagnosed with cervical cancer on May 20 2022 and said she had a panic attack while awaiting the test results in hospital with her husband, but he remained calm.
She said: “He was right there by my side as he always had been and he promised we’d get through this together.”
When her husband was diagnosed months later, she had recently been told her tumour was shrinking.
The accountant said: “My cancer treatment was working but there was nothing to celebrate with so much going on.
“Will got home (from hospital) on August 29 and deteriorated quickly. The next day we had to call an ambulance to take him to hospital where the doctors said he had a bowel obstruction and was too ill for surgery.
“Will was moved to Ayrshire Hospice where he died on September 1 last year. I couldn’t believe it. This was the man I’d loved since I was a teenager, the man I shared my life with, the man I thought I’d grow old with, and he was gone.”
Mrs MacLaren completed cancer treatment on November 10 last year, with Thea helping her ring the bell to mark the successful end of treatment.
She has now been chosen to launch Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life series of fundraising events in Scotland, with the 5K and 10K events starting in Stirling on April 30.
Mrs MacLaren will take part in Scotland’s largest of these events on Sunday May 21 at Glasgow Green, with her relatives.
“I don’t know where I’d be now without the support of my cousins, aunts and friends who have looked after me and helped with the children. I’m fortunate to have some wonderful people in my life and our family is stronger than ever,” she said.
“It’s vital to play my part to fund research today which I hope will also help beat cancer for future generations.
“Cancer doesn’t discriminate. We all have a reason to Race for Life. For me it will be a Race for a cure, a race for all the families out there who are living with cancer right now.”
Cancer Research UK spokeswoman in Scotland Lisa Adams said: “We are grateful to Shona and her family 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.”
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