Maggie’s royal role for teenager Leigh

Leigh Bonthrone and Jemma Findlay. Picture by Lesley Martin
Leigh Bonthrone and Jemma Findlay. Picture by Lesley Martin
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A Kirkcaldy teenager whose family has been touched by cancer has been selected to perform a special role at the launch of the new Maggie’s Centre in Aberdeen.

Leigh Bonthrone (15) knows better than most why Maggie’s is so important and this is why she has been chosen to present a floral bouquet to Her Majesty Sonja, Queen of Norway, and Maggie’s president, HRH The Duchess of Rothesay, at the opening on September 23.

She will be joined by Jemma Findlay (8) who lost her mum to cancer earlier this year.

Leigh’s dad John (46) underwent a 56-hour operation a few years ago to save his life when doctors discovered a tumour in his spine. The family found vital support at Maggie’s and Leigh has been involved in raising funds and awareness for the new cancer care facility.

Leigh said: “I am so honoured to be have been picked by Maggie’s to present the flowers at the opening.

“It has helped us all so much. To be involved like this is really special.”

John, who lives in Kirkcaldy with Leigh and his wife Amber, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2008 when doctors found a tumour in his ribs had spread to his spine.

The father-of-one had been feeling unwell for a couple of weeks and his wife, Amber, thought he had a chest infection.

She persuaded him to go to the doctors but the couple’s world fell apart when they were told he had a cancerous tumour. Itwas the size of a large melon and had wrapped itself around his spine.

John was told he only had between six and nine months to live.

His case was put to a team of top surgeons in Edinburgh who came up with one last option to remove the tumour.

They operated for 52 hours over five days, during which time he died twice.

He was in intensive care for two months, but after a lengthy rehabilitation was eventually able to return to work.

The cost estimator for BP said: “Without Maggie’s I doubt we, as a family, would have come through this entire ordeal in the fashion we have.

‘‘When I was in hospital my wife, who has been my rock, and Leigh would pop in to Maggie’s Fife for a cup of tea and a chat after visiting me.

“When I was told I would only have between six and nine months left to live if I didn’t have the operation and a 50/50 chance of paralysis if I did, Maggie’s gave me so much help and advice.

“When I ended up working in Aberdeen and discovered there was a campaign to build a Maggie’s here I knew I wanted to be involved.

“I’m so proud of Leigh. It is absolutely fantastic she is been asked to be involved the opening. It is a real honour.”