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West Lothian woman raises cash for Myeloma UK

A devoted daughter has raised a whopping £5735 after shaving her head in a show of solidarity for her mother who was recently diagnosed with the incurable blood cancer, myeloma.

Vicci Hughes, from Bathgate, chopped off her long locks on Sunday with her mum, Alison McDonald, and her two daughters, Georgia and Amber, by her side.

The 38-year-old said: “My mum actually filmed the shave for me, cried most of the way through then gave me a huge hug after.

“She thought it looked really good though and everyone I’ve spoken to thinks I really suit it – perhaps they are just being nice, but the response has been phenomenal.

“I know my mum feels quite emotional about losing her hair on top of everything else that’s going on so just I just wanted to make her feel better about it. I thought we could go bald together.”

Never one to complain, 56-year-old Alison, from South Edinburgh, stoically endured months of excruciating back and rib pain, assuming she had pulled a muscle, before being admitted to hospital back in April.

What both she and doctors had dismissed as mere muscular pain turned out to be multiple spinal fractures caused by myeloma, a rare incurable blood cancer. By the time she was hospitalised, she had “shrunk” four inches in height.

“It was a bit of a shock,” said Vicci. “I think my mum has quite a high pain threshold.

“She’s one of those folk who doesn’t like to cause a fuss and so just got on with things. We just couldn’t believe it. You think your mum is going to be there forever.”

She added: “My mum is a brilliant human being. She’s spent most of her life as a single mum bringing up four kids and being a carer to my 24-year-old sister Ashley, who has Down Syndrome and needs all-day supervision and additional support.

“She has been an amazing nana to my two girls and they adore her.

She doesn’t complain, she doesn’t wallow in self-pity, she just carries on with grit and determination every single day.”

Myeloma occurs in the bone marrow and currently affects over 24,000 people in the UK.

Despite being the third most common type of blood cancer, it is especially difficult to detect as symptoms, including back pain, easily broken bones, fatigue and recurring infection, are often linked to general ageing or minor conditions.

While it is incurable, myeloma is treatable in the majority of cases.

Treatment is aimed at controlling the disease, relieving the complications and symptoms it causes, and extending and improving patients’ quality of life.

More than half of patients face a wait of over five months to receive the right diagnosis and around a third are diagnosed through an emergency route.

By that point, many of them are experiencing severe or life-threatening symptoms.

Alison is currently undergoing her second round of chemotherapy in preparation for a stem cell transplant.

“A stem cell transplant is her best chance of a longer remission,” said Vicci.

“Unfortunately, it’s her second time going through chemotherapy because she caught a bug which meant they had to postpone her transplant for two weeks. She has already lost her hair because of the chemo.

“A stem cell transplant is the equivalent of a major operation and she is likely to be very sick for a number of weeks. Her immune system will be non-existent and she will be prone to every infection.”

While there is no cure for myeloma, Vicci is determined to do her part to help fund vital research into life-extending treatments and give her recently-engaged mum a few more precious years of happiness.

“Advances in medicine now mean that people with myeloma are able to be treated for a number of years often living relatively normal lives for much of this but it is believed that in the future, a cure can be found,” she said.

“I live in hope for this cure or at least even better treatments to allow my mum to live her life to the fullest for as long as possible. Last year she finally got engaged and moved in with her partner of 17 years. They plan to get married in the near future and deserve so many happy years together.”

To make a donation, head to Vicci’s JustGiving page, https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/operationspudhead

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