Kirkcaldy mountain bike champion raising money for breast cancer after shock diagnosis
A world champion mountain biker from Kirkcaldy is raising cash for Breast Cancer Now after being ‘shockingly diagnosed’ with secondary breast cancer.
Gillian Stewart (38), who has been crowned Scottish Master Mountain Bike Champion, British Masters Champion, and in 2016 the World 24 hour Mountain Bike Champion, was diagnosed last November after visiting her doctor with back and stomach pain.
Since her shock diagnosis, Gillian has made it her mission to help raise awareness as well as funds to help combat secondary breast cancer.
She said: “I began my cancer journey with excruciating back pain and slight stomach pain. My doctor thought the back pain was muscular and decided to investigate the stomach pain.
"An ultrasound showed something abnormal in my liver which lead to me getting an MRI scan on my liver and then straight away I was sent for a CT scan.
"Two hours later a GP knocked on my door telling me I was being admitted to Victoria Hospital because there was something showing up from the scan on my back.
"When I got to the Vic I was shockingly told I had breast cancer which had metastasised in my back and liver – when I was told this, my world stopped.
"From there I was admitted to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh and surgery was carried out on my spine five days later where metal rods were inserted into my spine to support and protect my spinal cord.
"I am now on long term medication to help kill some cancer cells but sadly this will never go away – I now have a shortened life and a slight to the one that I used to have.”
After her shock diagnosis, Gillian has set up a series of fundraisers to raise cash for breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now.
“I am currently fundraising for the Breast Cancer Now charity with the £1000 challenge,” she said. “I started the challenge three weeks ago and the way people from Fife have came together to support me is overwhelming.
"I chose this charity because any money raised is going towards battling secondary breast cancer, and its aim is to stop people dying from breast cancer by 2050 – this sadly won’t likely include me but it can help others like me in years to come.
“I want to try and raise as much awareness as possible, and to encourage others to check their bodies if they think something just isn’t right, and also to not give up with their GP and keep going until they reach an outcome.
As well as the £1000 challenge, Gillian adds that she has created a charity raffle and has also set up sponsored mountain bike events.
“I will be staging a 24 hour mountain bike event, but instead of doing it myself I have 23 friends doing it with me on their own route,” she added. “Because of Covid we can’t hold a proper event, so each one of my cycling buddies will do one hour each and pass on the virtual batten to the next rider.
"I’m doing all of this to help raise awareness and hope that anyone reading this will check their breasts to catch it sooner and to not potentially be in my situation where I am now.”