Support from Cancer charity drives Lochhead to personal challenge

Richard and Fiona Lochhead - repaying incredible support from Cancer chairity
Richard and Fiona Lochhead – repaying incredible support from Cancer chairity

FIGHTING BREAST CANCER has become a very personal issue for Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead as he supporters his wife Fiona through her own battle.

Now Richard is set to turn his passion for cycling into a means of putting something back into the charity that has helped Fiona – and many more who are living with cancer.

Fiona Lochhead opened her heart to share her devastating news, determined that through her personal battle she would encourage other women to take the time to check their breasts for possible early signs.

Richard, who is the minster for rural affairs, food and environment, is set to show gratitude to Macmillan Cancer Support by taking part in the Etape Loch Ness 2016 event, which has chosen the charity as its official partner.

It will be the first sportive event the busy MSP has taken part in and he will do so as part of ‘Team Macmillan’. “It just made perfect sense,” the MSP said, adding: “2016 is my year for serious cycling so I have signed up for my first ever etape.

“I’ve signed up for Team Macmillan as having watched the support Fiona has had over the last few months from cancer charities, it brings home just what am amazing job they do. Seeing how much comfort Fiona has had from what they do means a lot.

“It looks like an amazing route and I know people who have done it and recommend it. It will be a good challenge and at the same time I will be able to enjoy the beautiful Highland scenery.”

Etape Loch Ness takes place on April 24, less than two weeks before the Scottish Parliamentary Elections – but this hasn’t put Richard off, in fact he will be encouraging fellow MSPs to dig deep into their pockets to support his cause.

He said: “Despite the fact that it is just before the elections I am determined to go ahead with it. I’ve never asked my MSP colleagues before, so I am hoping that they will give generously!”

Fiona underwent surgery to have the tumour removed in October last year and this was followed by chemotherapy, which has caused her to lose her hair. Chemo will continue until around March then she will start radiotherapy and may require a further operation to remove lymph nodes.

She’s has spoken out about her experience to make other women more aware of breast cancer and to understand how important self-examination is.

She said: “The first few days I thought how could I have missed it, but it was obvious – I had not been looking for anything. Then I was angry, I do so many other things to look after my health – I swim, eat well, don’t smoke or drink that much, but I was not doing this one most important thing. I wondered how I could have been so foolish.

“A cancer diagnosis makes everything different and speaking to people who have had similar experiences has helped me. Seeing how people benefit from cancer charities has been brilliant – they really are helping people at a very difficult time.”

Now Fiona is proud of her husband’s efforts to get fit and fundraise for Macmillan, adding: “This is a great way for Richard to give something back, as we have benefited so much from the work charities do.”

Event director Malcolm Sutherland said: “To see so many people supporting Macmillan Cancer Support is really heart-warming and for Richard the cause is very close to his heart.  We wish Fiona well as she continues her cancer treatment and we hope that politics won’t get in the way of Richard’s training schedule!”

Moray constituents and beyond can support Richard’s efforts by visiting his Just Giving website.

Macmillan Cancer Support has been Etape Loch Ness’ official charity partner since 2014, and so far over £245,000 has been raised to help people affected by cancer. The money raised in 2016 will help fund Macmillan’s services including specialist nurses, financial support for cancer patients, and a nurse-run support line.

Beginning in Inverness, the Etape Loch Ness route follows the A82 along the northern side of the loch, before passing through Fort Augustus onto the south side for the most challenging leg of the course – the King of the Mountain – a 4.8mile climb which rises to 380m in height. The route then continues around the southern side of the loch before returning to the Highland capital.