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Life after cancer: Four stoic survivors show there’s light at the end of the tunnel

Meet cancer survivors from across the north and north-east who are bravely sharing their stories to give others hope.
Rosemary Lowne
Lucy Summers is one of the courageous cancer survivors who has bravely shared her story. Image: Scott Baxter/DC Thomson
Lucy Summers is one of the courageous cancer survivors who has bravely shared her story. Image: Scott Baxter/DC Thomson

Cancer: one word that can evoke the most powerful of emotions.

Fear, pain, anger and sadness perhaps.

But what about hope?

Determined to provide a source of strength and positivity, four courageous cancer survivors from across the north and north-east share their stories in a bid to show others that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Rachael Glennie

Cervical cancer survivor Rachael Glennie.
Cancer survivor Rachael Glennie hopes her story will show the importance of cervical screening. Image: Wullie Marr/ DC Thomson

Booking an exotic holiday, getting engaged, landing a new job and turning 30, Rachael Glennie was living her best life.

But suddenly everything froze when the 34-year-old from Foveran, a village near Ellon, was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

“I actually went back to work after I was diagnosed as I had no idea what to do,” says Rachael.

“I just sat in the office for the rest of the day trying not to cry.”

Fit, healthy and happy, Rachael was never at the doctor growing up.

It was only as she approached her thirties and started suffering from severe back pain that she knew something wasn’t quite right.

At the time Rachael was due her cervical smear test so she booked that and also arranged an appointment with her doctor.

World turned upside down

Rachael Glennie with her two dogs.
Rachael Glennie says the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust was a source of support. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

Rachael’s smear test results showed that something wasn’t right so she was sent for a biopsy.

“During the biopsy the doctor said she thought it was cancer,” says Rachael.

“I hadn’t gone really expecting that so it was difficult.”

Breaking the devastating news to her husband Craig, parents Sarah-Ann and Neil and sister Elizabeth, was tough.

“Craig and I drove over to see my family and I immediately walked in the door I burst into tears,” says Rachael.

“It was a huge shock for everybody.”

Cervical cancer

Rachael Glennie.
Rachael was shocked when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.<br />Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

Following scans, Rachael’s oncologist confirmed that she had stage 3C cervical cancer which had spread to her lymph nodes.

“It was clear from how he was speaking that we needed to start treatment as soon as possible,” says Rachael.

As well as coping with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy treatment, Rachael also had to come to terms with the fact that she wouldn’t be able to have children.

“The decision was taken out of our hands which was obviously something which was a massive deal at the time but we had to just put it to the side because there was something much bigger in terms of getting through the treatment,” says Rachael.

Positive by nature

Rachael Glennie in her home.
Rachael says her family and husband Craig were a massive support. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

Stoic in nature, Rachael got through her treatment with her amazing husband Craig and her family by her side.

“I’ve always been a content person, never really up or down and a lot of people said to me oh I don’t know how you’ve dealt with it all,” says Rachael.

“But I just dealt with it, I didn’t see any other choice.”

The best news

In May 2020, Rachael finally got the news that she had been desperately waiting for when doctors told her she was in remission.

“I feel very grateful and lucky to be alive,” says Rachael.

Throughout her cancer journey, Rachael says that together with her incredible family she also found support through the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

“I found lots of information on their website and I also found their online forum very helpful,” says Rachael.

Rachael Glennie at the gym.
Since getting the all clear Rachael has taken up weightlifting. Image: Wullie Marr / DC Thomson

By sharing her story, Rachael hopes it will raise awareness of the importance of cervical smear tests and also show people that there is life after cancer.

“Craig and I got married last year and I’ve also started doing strong women training,” says Rachael.

“I feel very empowered.”

Malcolm Rooney

Prostate cancer survivor Malcolm Roone.
Malcolm Rooney was philosophical when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Image: Malcolm Rooney

“You use the phrase ‘life after cancer’ but I think there’s definitely life with cancer too – enjoy it and live it to the full,” says Malcolm Rooney, a locum church minister from Kirriemuir who is sharing his cancer journey in a bid to give other people hope.

Philosophical by nature and with a calm acceptance of death which only comes with 24 years as a church minister, the 71-year-old remained positive after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“The day that I was told I had prostate cancer I had to do a funeral visit in the afternoon, and when I asked what the man had died from I was told it was prostate cancer,” says Malcolm.

“I thought I really don’t want to hear that.

“But it transpired that the man had left it too late to get checked.

“So I always say now, if in doubt get it checked.”

Prostate cancer

With no symptoms to speak of, it was actually through the home bowel cancer screening kit that flagged up to doctors that something wasn’t quite right with Malcolm’s prostate.

“I didn’t know that I had prostate issues, however around 2010 I did a bowel kit test and I was referred to get a colonoscopy where they removed a couple of polyps,” says Malcolm, who was initially a PE teacher before he entered the Church of Scotland ministry.

“I was called back a few years later for a check-up,

“I was told that my bowel was clear but that I had a lump on my prostate so I was sent for biopsies and the surgeon later told me I had grade four prostate cancer.”

Story of hope

Facing what was ahead of him with a can-do attitude, Malcolm went on to have his prostate removed and underwent radiotherapy treatment.

During this daunting time, Malcolm went about his life as normal but chokes up when talking about a moment when he wondered whether he would make it to his grandson’s next birthday.

“The only blip I had in the whole process was once when I looked at one of my grandsons who was one and I wondered if I would see him when he was two – he’s now 12,” says Malcolm.

Now in his 11th year of being cancer-free, Malcolm hopes his story will be a source of strength to others.

“The advice I would give people is to trust the doctors, and the other thing to say is that everyone’s cancer is different,” says Malcolm.

“It’s also important to say that cancer treatment has moved on leaps and bounds and the NHS works – they’re not paid enough, but the NHS works.”

Lucy Summers

Hodgkin lymphoma survivor Lucy Summers.
Cancer survivor Lucy Summers makes the best of every day. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Lucy Summers will know that she has the power to light up any room.

Vivacious, full of fun and with a selflessness that shines through in her role as a nurse at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, the 27-year-old is always putting other people first.

In fact Lucy is so selfless that when her world was turned upside down after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, she was more worried about the impact it would have on her loved ones than on herself.

“When you’re diagnosed it’s like the films, everything around you just stops and it just goes blurry,” says Lucy, who lives in Ellon with her fiancé Ryan.

“You can see and hear everything but it’s like you’re in a trance; it’s the weirdest thing.

“At that point I wasn’t even thinking about me, I could just imagine everyone’s reaction being devastated.

“I suppose that’s the nurse in me.”

Hodgkin lymphoma

It was during a nightshift at the hospital when Lucy first discovered a lump on her neck.

The lump initially went away but when it returned Lucy was sent for tests, and in April 2021 she was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin lymphoma, an uncommon cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.

“I didn’t know how I would tell my mum and dad that their little girl has cancer,” says Lucy.

“That was definitely a hard day.”

Lucy Summers on a walk.
Positivity is in Lucy’s nature. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

With her incredible family and her soulmate Ryan by her side, Lucy embarked on what would be a rollercoaster of cancer journey.

After going through gruelling treatment, Lucy was initially given the-all clear only to be told in January 2022 that her cancer had returned.

“I thought ‘I can’t do this again. How am I meant to go through it all once more?'”, says Lucy.

“I had a few days moping around then got back into fight mode.

“There was nothing else for it as I had to get on with it.”

The Teenage Cancer Trust

During this time Lucy was supported by Nicola and Amanda from The Teenage Cancer Trust.

“Amanda’s support was even more welcomed when I was struggling,” says Lucy

“I didn’t show a lot of emotion as I didn’t want to worry people, but Amanda always had the ability to make me cry.

“This was a good thing as she knew that I needed to let it all out rather than letting it all build up.”

Lucy Summers.
Lucy says the support she received from The Teenage Cancer Trust was incredible. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

In January this year, Lucy was given the news that she was finally cancer free.

“It was a good start to the year I must say,” says Lucy

Determined to make the most of every day, Lucy, who documented her cancer journey on Instagram, is embracing life like never before.

From getting engaged and going on holiday to strutting her stuff at the charity catwalk show Courage on the Catwalk, the last few months have been a whirlwind.

“I’m definitely just living each day because I’m so lucky to be here,” says Lucy.

“That’s what I’d say to everyone, enjoy yourself and live in the moment.”

Raised over £20k

So thankful for the support she has received from The Teenage Cancer Trust, Lucy and her friends and family have collectively raised over £20,000 for the charity.

She also has some advice for others who are going through similar situations

“It’s ok to feel how you’re feeling; if you’re feeling down or sad, tomorrow will hopefully be a better day,” says Lucy.

“Just reach out as the support is there, and surround yourself with things that make you happy.”

Colin Hall

Bowel cancer survivor Colin Hall.
Colin Hall was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year. Image: Colin Hall

When Colin Hall gets to see his hero, the rock legend Bruce Springsteen, in concert, it will mark a momentous milestone.

Since being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer last year, Colin from Inverness has used the concert as a goal to focus on.

“My main aim was to see Bruce Springsteen this year so I can’t wait to see him play at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Tuesday,” says father of one Colin, 53.

The last 12 months have been life-changing for Colin, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer following a colonoscopy.

“It’s a weird feeling as you hear the word cancer but you don’t hear anything else,” says Colin.

“It’s an out-of-body experience in a way.”

Major surgery

Colin Hall.
Colin is thankful for the support he has received from Maggie’s Highlands. Image: Colin Hall

Since then, Colin has undergone two major surgeries and endured gruelling rounds of chemotherapy.

Despite everything Colin has been through he has remained positive and says the support he has received from Maggie’s Highlands, a cancer charity based at Raigmore Hospital, has helped him through.

“Since I’ve had the surgery I’ve been seeing a psychologist from Maggie’s Highlands every two weeks and it’s made a difference,” says Colin.

“It has massively helped me.

“I also go to the Maggie’s Where Now group which is about chatting about how you’re feeling as well as advice on nutrition and exercise sessions.

Colin Hall while undergoing chemotherapy.
Colin took this picture while undergoing chemotherapy. Image: Colin Hall

“I’m also doing a memory and concentration course through the charity because chemo really does fog your brain.”

Colin, who is still being monitored at the hospital, hopes his story will encourage people not to put off doing their home bowel screening tests.

“If something isn’t right, get in touch with the doctor,” says Colin.

“Don’t just stick the screening test in the cupboard when it comes through the door.”

To order a home bowel screening kit call 0800 0121 833 or visit 

For more on the Teenage Cancer Trust visit

You can visit Maggie’s Highlands at