It’s been a life-changing year for Di Winstone but she’s living proof that there is life after a cancer diagnosis.
Indeed, Di is fighting fit once again, so much so that she’s taking on the MoonWalk in Edinburgh next month – a marathon walk to raise funds for breast cancer charities.
I catch up with Di on Saturday afternoon – she’d just completed a 12 mile hike in training for the big event overnight on June 10.
Her ambition to take on the walk is all the more remarkable when you consider it’s just over a year since her diagnosis.
The 43-year-old, from Hillside, Portlethen, remembers the date all too well – February 9, 2016.
She said: “I went to my GP after discovering a lump in January 2016.
“I had previously had non-cancerous issues in 2005 and 2007 so I really wasn’t overly concerned. I was referred to be checked, just in case.
“My hospital appointment finally came on February 9.
“I had to go for a mammogram first then up to the clinic. The consultant couldn’t see anything suspicious on the mammogram but I asked her to examine me herself.
“She could feel the lump and asked a breast care nurse to arrange an ultrasound and fine needle aspiration.
“I had these tests done within 30 minutes then cells were taken out of my breast and sent to the lab and I was asked to remain in the waiting room.
“When I had the ultrasound, I saw another area that they kept scanning as well as the first one and from that moment I think I knew it wasn’t going to be good news.
“After waiting for around an hour in the waiting room, I was called back through to a consultation room with my husband Chris, with a different consultant and breast nurse. I knew from their body language what was about to unfold.
“When they said those words, ‘we have found cancer cells’ I just felt that I was under water and everything they said was garbled. I was in shock, confused and just stunned to be honest.
“All I could think about was my kids, Ryan (17) and Gavin (14) and whether I was going to die.
“So many thoughts go through your head – will I lose my hair, what am I going to look like, will I lose my breasts?”
Di has undergone a double mastectomy and reconstruction, as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which finished in October.
She had Grade 3, multi focal, triple negative breast cancer which means she cannot receive the same after care medication as others.
Di said: “I needed six cycles of chemo which ran over 18 weeks. I then had four weeks before a double mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction.
“The operation was 14 hours long and I then needed two further operations, all within six weeks, before my radiotherapy finished at the end of October.
“Now I am doing good! I am back full time at work (as a leasing executive at a firm of solicitors).
“I still have a lot of pain from the treatment and have to adapt to my new normal but, overall, I am buzzing.
“My hair is growing back. I am looking and feeling better every week and strangers in the street now pass me by and have no idea what I have been through!
“Being triple negative means I can’t take the same medication as those who have had other types of breast cancer.
“I was so naive when I was first diagnosed as I thought there was only one type!
“But I try to stay positive. I enjoy the small things now and don’t take things for granted like I used to.”
Di is now turning that positivity towards raising funds for breast cancer research and by taking on the MoonWalk in Edinburgh overnight on Saturday, June 10. She started her training on January 2 and, having surpassed her £500 then £1000 targets, is now aiming for £1500.
“I wanted to raise money but also give myself something positive to focus on,” she said.
Di, Chris and the boys and Di’s parents Meg and Pete will spend the weekend in Edinburgh together – so she’ll have plenty of supporters cheering her on.
She added: “I think it will be a super emotional night as it’s not that long since I finished treatment ... but it’s something I have to do.
“It will be amazing being with all these women who have their own personal reasons for taking part.”
To support Di’s marathon effort, visit https://moonwalkscotland 2017.everydayhero.com/uk/di.
Walker and volunteer appeal
Breast cancer charity, Walk the Walk, famous for its trademark decorated bras, is urging women, men and young people to unleash their inner Tarzan by signing up for The MoonWalk Scotland 2017.
Back with a bang for the 12th year, Scotland’s much loved night-time challenge is taking place on Saturday, June 10.
With a jungle safari theme, the event will see walkers snaking past some of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks including Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and St Giles’ Cathedral.
From leopards to lynx, lemurs and lions, Walk the Walk is hoping people will let their imaginations run wild as they decorate their Jungle Safari inspired bras for the event.
Open to people aged 10 and over, walkers can take on one of four challenges: New Moon (6.55 miles), Half Moon (13.1 miles), Full Moon (26.2 miles) or Over The Moon (52.4 miles).
Eighty-thousand people have taken part in The MoonWalk Scotland over the years, helping to raise more than £19.6 million. Most of the money raised from the event stays in Scotland to help improve the lives of people with cancer now. Around 4600 women and men in Scotland are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Nina Barough, founder and chief executive of Walk the Walk said: “The MoonWalk Scotland is a magical night when determination, inspiration touched with the extraordinary unite to raise much needed awareness about the importance of breast care and to raise money for those with cancer in Scotland.”
Walk the Walk needs 1000 amazing Volunteers to help at this year’s MoonWalk Scotland, which starts at Holyrood Park. To sign up as a walker or a volunteer, visit www.walkthewalk.org.