A BRAVE Dunbar mum has spoken of her battle with cancer.

Shiela Laramore has been chosen as the face of the Stand Up To Cancer campaign in Scotland (see image below, by Lesley Martin) and is marking the first anniversary of being told she had the disease by sharing her story.

East Lothian Courier:

The 33-year-old discovered she was battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells, when her son Harry was just eight months old.

Shiela was diagnosed last September following tests at St John’s Hospital, Livingston. Doctors told her that although her cancer was aggressive it was treatable and she began a two-month bout of chemotherapy at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital, before starting three weeks of radiotherapy in January.

Shiela, of the town’s Ash Grove, said drugs that reduced the side effects of chemotherapy were “vitally important”, adding: “It meant I could still have days where the treatment effects were manageable and I could enjoy time with my little boy.

“There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed and that was tough, but the medication I was given to manage the sickness and fatigue really helped.

“It also helped me to keep working. I returned to work from maternity leave two months before I was diagnosed.

“I found that keeping going with work and maintaining some degree of normality was good as it gave me something to focus on.”

Shiela – a former member of Dunbar Sings and Dunbar Lyric Group, who is married to husband Gabriel, a paramedic – said she felt “really lucky” that her son’s first Christmas fell during a break from treatment.

“I was starting to recover a bit from the chemotherapy and had a few weeks off before the radiotherapy,” she said.

“We had a small, family gathering. It was lovely. I think I appreciated it all the more because of everything that was going on.”

In March, Shiela, of Ash Grove, took on the Walk All Over Cancer challenge, raising more than £1,000 for Cancer Research UK by completing 10,000 steps every day for a month.

And 12 weeks after her treatment ended, a scan showed she was cancer free.

Shiela said: “I know it may sound strange but I feel incredibly lucky that I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer before Harry was born because I’d have been worried for the entire pregnancy.

“Instead I got to focus on enjoying being pregnant with my little boy and then having those wonderful first few months with him before I got the awful news. Those early days with your baby are precious. I tried to make the most of every moment. I try very hard to be positive because children are very perceptive and they pick up on slight changes in your mood.

“I don’t want my son to have anything to worry about. He’s exactly as he should be, smiling, laughing, chatting all the time and climbing on anything he can reach. I’m loving being a mum and couldn’t be prouder of Harry.”

East Lothian Courier:

Shiela with son Harry (image Lesley Martin).

Shiela is now urging people across the country to back the Stand Up to Cancer campaign, a joint fundraising effort from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 that aims to improve tests and treatment.

She said: “Nobody should have to worry about not seeing their children grow up. When I first learnt I had cancer I just sat there thinking: ‘That’s it. I’m going to die.’ It was very hard to take in.

“I kept thinking: ‘Am I going to live to see my baby become a little boy and grow up?’ But I got through cancer and I know research saves lives.

“That’s why I’m giving my heartfelt support to join the rebellion. Stand Up To Cancer raises money to speed up more effective treatments for people who really need it. Harry is my gorgeous, precious little boy and I’ll do everything I can to be the best possible mum for him. If I can make a difference and help others along the way then I’ll do it.”

She urged anyone who notices anything different about their body to visit their GP.