A teenager who overcame two cancer diagnoses and has been in remission for two years shares her hope for the future of cancer research.
Eilidh Mackay, 19, from South Ayrshire, an ambassador for UK charity Worldwide Cancer Research, spoke of her gratitude to the researchers dedicated to improving the lives of those living with cancer, highlighting the positive role research has played in both her treatment and outcome.
The charity, which works with research teams across the world to start new cancer cures, encouraged people to join them at the ‘starting line’ in a bid to highlight how discovery research can kick-start the life-saving advances of the future – with former world champion Liz McColgan lending her support.
Worldwide Cancer Research has funded over £200m of pioneering discovery research in over 30 countries to help with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
The charity is currently funding 70 active research projects – charting numerous breakthroughs, including research that resulted in a clinical trial that will aim to repurpose a psychiatric drug available on the NHS as a preventative treatment for bowel cancer.
Eilidh was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in June 2016, aged just 14, after experiencing lung pain and cramps in her legs, and then in February 2019, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Although now in remission, Eilidh’s reaction to her intense course of chemotherapy resulted in her having to be put in a sedated coma for two months with emergency surgery on her gut.
Unable to do anything other than blink when she came out of the coma, Eilidh has had to relearn how to do everything. Her rehabilitation and determination enabled her to walk unaided in 2019 – the same year successful surgery went ahead to remove the tumour from her thyroid.
Graduating from college this year, Eilidh is an early years practitioner, working with children with additional support needs – and hopes to become a teacher in the future.
Speaking of the importance of research, Eilidh said:
“I hope that one day, no one will have to go through the heart-breaking cancer diagnosis I have experienced. I personally feel cancer has control over us, but funding this important research worldwide will help us take back control.
“We have come so far in terms of cancer research and cures, with advances in technology to help diagnose cancer and kinder treatments. Most importantly those who receive a devastating diagnosis could have the hope of living longer thanks to the knowledge we now have.
“This proves the funding which is generously donated to help progress breakthrough cancer research is working, and I personally am hugely grateful that the understanding of how to treat my cancer was there when I was diagnosed.
“Cancer has definitely changed my life in both good and bad ways. I have a new perspective on life and am so much more grateful for everything around me. But I know others haven’t been as fortunate as me, which is why I’m determined to raise awareness of the importance of research, particularly the incredible discovery research funded by Worldwide Cancer Research that will get us to the finish line. Without that important start, there can be no end.”
Former world champion Liz McColgan said:
“A strong start is the foundation of success in athletics, and the same can be said of the research. I’m delighted to be able to join Worldwide Cancer Research at the starting line, to help raise awareness of how that important first stage of the research journey can lead to incredible, life-saving advances.”
Dr Helen Rippon, Chief Executive, Worldwide Cancer Research said:
“Eilidh is an inspiration and we’re indebted to her for sharing her story in a bid to highlight the vital role research plays in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
“At Worldwide Cancer Research, our focus is funding the first steps to discovering something entirely new about cancer, to create the foundation for future tests and treatments.
“With the average cancer research project taking around 20 years to be realised, we’re resolute in our aim of making discoveries that will boost the research pipeline and provide hope for the millions affected by cancer, both now and in the future.”
For more information about Worldwide Cancer Research, please visit: www.worldwidecancerresearch.org.