FIONA LOCHHEAD HAS spoken of her fears as she prepared for chemotherapy treatment – and relief that tests carried out last month have shown no spread of cancer to other parts of her body.
The wife of Moray’s MSP and Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead, has been widely praised for her amazing bravery and determination to raise awareness of breast cancer – and encourage women throughout the country to understand the need to check themselves for the condition.
Mrs Lochhead, 43, was diagnosed in October last year and has since had surgery to have the tumour removed. That was followed by a course of chemotherapy that began at the start of December, making Christmas a particularly challenging time for Fiona and her family.
Speaking to a Sunday newspaper, Mrs Lochhead said: “I had been quite apprehensive about how the chemo might affect me and had been in contact with a lot of people who had been through it.
“I knew their experiences might be totally different to my experience – it is a bit like childbirth in that respect – but it’s good to go in with the knowledge of what might happen. I suffered quite a lot of not-so-nice side-effects after my first dose but at the same time it was not as terrible as I had expected.
“I know for some people losing your hair is very distressing, but I see it as a temporary thing and know it will grow back. My hair was quite long before my treatment so I decided to get it cut to my ears.”
Fiona added that when she told sons Angus, 12, and Fraser, seven, of her decision to cut her hair they were “very vocal” in letting her know they did not want her to do that – but she cut it anyway, adding: “I think it made it much easier for them when my hair fell out.”
She added: “It is too cold for me to be bald and proud so I tend to keep a hat on – I think the boys have had my wig on more than I have but it’s good to have it there as an option.”
Mrs Lochhead has nothing but wholehearted praise for NHS Grampian, who she says have been “amazing”, as well as the charity support forums and local cancer support group in Moray. She added that the support of family and friends has also played a vital part in the process she has had to undergo.
Looking to the future, Fiona added: “Richard, the boys and I had a lovely Christmas and we are looking forward to the year ahead. My chemo will go on until around March, then I’ll start radiotherapy and I still might need an operation to have some lymph nodes removed. But whatever happens, I know I can cope.”
Continuing her determination to encourage all women to be aware of breast cancer and do all they can to ensure it is diagnosed as early as possible, she added: “For the rest of my life, I will always need to be very breast aware – as I should have been before.
“I am happy to keep speaking out about my experience in the hope that it encourages other women to check their breasts and simply to look after themselves better in this busy world we live.”
Further information on being aware of breast cancer can be found online at the Breast Cancer Now organisation.