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‘Cancer takes so much away from you’: North-east mum determined to help other patients in her position

Louisa McKay says yoga has helped with her recovery.
Louisa McKay says yoga has helped with her recovery.

Yoga teacher Louisa McKay was in shock when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

She’d discovered a lump on her side but initially had no concerns because her mammograms were always clear.

But when Louisa found another lump in her armpit she booked an appointment with her GP.

Two weeks later she was told it was cancer.

With her body and mind under so much stress, the mother-of-four had to stop doing the job that she loved.

The 44-year-old was really disappointed when she discovered there’s a lack of support available for rural cancer patients.

She’s now fundraising to pay for training to help others get access to free complementary therapy after their diagnosis.

The former finance worker, who lives in King Edward in Aberdeenshire, shares how difficult her cancer journey has been for her and her husband Dave, and of her plans to make sure others with cancer get all the help they need…


‘You feel like that’s it! Your time is up.’

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July this year. It came as a total shock – as does any cancer diagnosis – you immediately feel like that’s it! Your time is up.

It’s so important to get any changes checked out if you notice something is different in your body.

My type of cancer is triple negative, which is more aggressive and has a worse prognosis than hormone receptive cancers.

After undergoing a whole host of scans I started chemotherapy in September, which wasn’t great. Nothing can really prepare you for that experience.

I had a mastectomy 8 weeks ago.

I’ve been teaching yoga for three years now and regularly held classes in Banff and Turriff before my diagnosis.

But since finding out I have cancer I found it difficult not only physically, but emotionally, to cope with work. I didn’t feel able to support others in their yoga practice while my body and mind were under so much stress.

Louisa in hospital undergoing treatment.

Cancer support is widely available and great – so long as you live in Aberdeen.

I’ve found the further out the road you get, the less there is in terms of group support and complementary therapies for cancer patients and their families.

Now that I am beginning to see some improvement in my own health, I really want to be able to pass that on to other people who might be in the same position.

‘I have supported my own healing’

Cancer takes so much away from you, I personally was left feeling like a shell of myself.

I have supported my own healing through slowly getting back to yoga again, meditating, face yoga – which really helps iron out all the frowns – eating a healthy diet filled with fresh fruit and veg and juicing. I tell everyone about my carrot juicing!

I knew there was a Yoga For Cancer teacher training coming up with an excellent teacher at TriYoga in London, which thankfully is also offered online.

Louisa with her husband Dave and their four children Neil, Mirren, Laurel and Rowan. Supplied by Louisa McKay.

Having had no income from yoga for the second half of this year I was not in a position to commit to the training without some help – so set up my GoFundMe campaign.

I want to help others facing cancer

By fundraising, I am going to be able to start free yoga classes for anyone who has been affected by cancer in my local community.

The classes will be open to anyone who has or had cancer or their support network – as I now know how much the people around you have to carry when they are caring for someone with this disease.

My husband has been incredible, sometimes I think it has been worse for him than it has for me.

Louisa with her brother-in-law Robert Vallance, husband Dave and their daughters Rowan and Laurel.</p> <p>

I have been absolutely stunned and overwhelmed by the support, not only by donors to my campaign but the messages of encouragement from people in my community and further afield.

‘It’s incredible – my fundraising target was smashed within hours’

I thought it would take a while to get to my target given that it is Christmas in a couple of weeks. And a lot of people suffered storm damage last week – we had no power for five days.

But my target was smashed within hours, which is just incredible. This means I can take the training course in January and start classes straight away.

I’ve undergone further surgery this week so will have plenty of time to recover over Christmas. It’s great to have something to plan for and look forward to – something I think is so important when you have had a cancer diagnosis.

Louisa McKay.

Going forward, I would also like to train in yoga for addiction. My husband and I have been alcohol-free for almost five years and would love to give some support back for those who have struggled with addiction.

There’s a great building in Banff which would make the ideal wellness centre and permanent base for the classes – that’s maybe another fundraising project for the future.

And I’m sure there are many other areas around the north-east that could do with specialist yoga teachers and complementary therapists offering support for cancer patients. The expansion of this project is another really interesting avenue.

Louisa’s fundraising campaign is available on GoFundMe, and she also offers some free classes on her FieldYoga YouTube channel and website.


More health news…

I sold my five-bed house to go travelling in a motorhome

How one north-east family has raised more than £100,000 for MND charity 

New interactive games developed to help people get healthier when they’re older

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