The County You Live, Work And Play
Great Scottish Swim
Four Lanarkshire mums will face one big challenge this month - to swim 64 lengths in open water. Three out of the four women have lost their mums to cancer and want to raise as much cash and awareness for The Beatson as they can by taking part in this year’s Great Scottish Swim at Loch Lomond.
Sisters Angela Stevenson and Audra Jardine, both of Larkhall, were heartbroken when their mum Joan McLeish, was diagnosed with a rare cancer back in 2011 at the age of 67.
With no warning signs Joan went to her GP with pains in her shoulders thinking it was a trapped nerve. Months later she was diagnosed with sarcoma.
Sarcomas are rare cancers that develop in the muscle, bone, nerves, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels and the fatty and fibrous tissues.
About 3800 new cases of sarcoma are diagnosed each year in the UK which makes up approximately one per cent of all cancer diagnoses.
Joan’s neck broke and surgeons worked to repair it by transplanting the bone from her hip to her neck to fuse her neck back together.
After treatment at The Beatson which included radiotherapy Joan was in remission.
However, her cancer returned and this time in her spine and after a brave fight she died on August 31, 2013.
The sisters were devastated but it was at the end of last year during a spin workout class that they met up with childhood friends Lyn Stewart and Gillian Baxter of Stonehouse.
Lyn also lost her mum, Janette Frame,to the disease when she was just 11 years old and Gillian too has lost family members to cancer.
The women were keen to raise awareness of the condition and decided to set themselves a challenge and signed up for the swim.
Lyn, Audra and Angela are no strangers to swimming as they met when they were just kids at Larkhall and Avondale Swimming Club competing in competitions for a number of years.
But the ladies had not been in the pool together for more than 30 years.
Angela said: “We lost contact with Lyn when she moved away it was great to see her again.
“We decided to challenge ourselves and - it’s been a challenge but a great laugh too.
“Gillian is the novice of the team but she’s doing great. The training has been hard but all of our families have been really supportive.”
Training sometimes four times per week the ladies have been getting help from friend Jack Dickson at Strathaven swimming pool. Angela said: “It’s been great to get back into the pool together. Our main challenge on the day will be the weather.
“When the wind hits the water becomes full of waves and we have to battle against it and off course the water can get so cold the brain freeze kicks in. “
The ladies aim to complete the swim at Loch Lomond on Saturday, August 29, in 45 minutes and aim to raise £1000.