A mum from Tomatin who travelled to America for life-saving treatment on a rare cancer in her spine has been chosen as the face of a campaign to save lives.
Primary teacher Linda Halliday had to learn to walk again after 12 weeks of proton beam therapy surgery to remove a tumour, at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville. Florida.
Mrs Halliday is urging Scots to wear a £2 Unity Band for World Cancer Day on Monday, February 4, in memory of a loved one or to celebrate people who’ve overcome cancer, or in support of those going through treatment.
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The former Millburn Academy student said: ““It’s thanks to research I’m still here today making memories. That’s why I want everyone in Scotland to wear a Unity band on World Cancer Day. Just by wearing a Unity band, everyone can help make a real difference to people with cancer.”
Mrs Halliday, 35, continued: “I feel so fortunate to be here and would love to help others in their journey with this awful disease.
“I was devastated when I was told I had cancer. My first thought was what about my boys? They were still so young. I was determined to do everything in my power to be there for them.
“Surgeons from all over the world discussed the best way forward and came up with the plan to send me to America. The tumour was on my spine and doctors explained that proton therapy was a more targeted form of radiotherapy.
“Given the very complicated and delicate area where my cancer was this treatment was my best hope. I’ve had great medical care in America and home in Scotland.”
On February 22, 2017, Mrs Halliday endured a six-hour operation, paid for by the NHS, to remove as much of the growth as possible. She was in hospital for almost a month afterwards as she battled to learn to walk again.
On March 6, 2017, after more tests, Mrs Halliday was diagnosed with a rare cancer called extra skeletal myxoid chondrosarcoma. The tumour which more often grows on bone had settled in a cluster of nerves on her spine.
She was referred to the American clinic for Proton beam therapy, a type of radiotherapy that can reduce side effects for patients by reducing damage to sensitive organs. She had 41 sessions of the therapy over a 12 week treatment schedule.
Unity Bands are available in all Cancer Research UK shops across Scotland and online at cruk.org/worldcancerday