Thea McNamee, with the support of her children and grandchildren, is all set to launch this year's Race for Life 5K. She spoke to MATTY SUTTON about how honoured she will be to start the event, on June 3.
IT was a few days before Christmas 2010 when Thea, 53, found out she had breast cancer.
She was shocked -and her first thought was how to tell her family.
Thea, who used to work in her local chip shop, lives in Blantyre with her husband Brian, 54.
She has five children and seven grandchildren, who range in age from four to 14, and all are very close to her.
Thea, said: "I was absolutely devastated.
"All I could think about was how I could break it to my family."
"We were having a big family Christmas at the home of one of my daughters, and I thought I can't waste Christmas Day by saying this so I kept quiet."
On Boxing Day Thea invited her daughters over for a girlie day and told them her news.
After lots of questions the family rallied round and before long Thea was in hospital for a mastectomy, the removal of one breast.
She was in surgery for 12 and half hours, and when she came out her family was there to aid her recovery.
A few weeks earlier Thea had been persuaded to go for a routine check by her friend Edith Morton.
Edith, 56, was heading down to a mobile unit in Hamilton for a mammogram – an x-ray to examine the breasts – and Thea tagged along to keep her company.
But it was Thea who got a letter two weeks later asking her to go to Glasgow for further tests which would eventually discover two tumours in her breast.
Before Thea went for the routine check she had no symptoms or signs of cancer.
She said: "I felt absolutely fine, I had no inkling, I had no lumps or bumps, there was nothing to indicate to me that there might be a problem.
"I actually felt a bit of fraud, I don't feel any different, I feel exactly the way I did before it. I feel a bit of a fraud that I have got this and but no symptoms and you're hearing about people getting chemotherapy and radiotherapy and I thought these things aren't happening to me and I feel fine."
But the thought of the operation terrified her.
Thea's brother, Bobby Borland, died three years ago, at the age of 51, after losing his battle with bowel cancer.
And, already suffering from breathing problems after 30 years of smoking, Thea was worried she might not wake up.
The night before her operation she texted all her family, telling them how much she loved them.
When she got out of hospital, her family was there for her.
She said: "The grandchildren were there with drawings for me and wee things that they had made."
Her daughters took it in turns to care for Thea, who recovered slowly following infections.
She said: "I don't know what I would have done without them."
Now Thea is playing a waiting game.
She has to take an anti-cancer drug for the next five years and is tested for cancer every year.
She will not know until after the course is finished whether she is cancer-free.
She said: "It's a horrible feeling, you just don't know what is going to happen and that is hanging over you."
"It's a true saying that you don't know what's round the corner, so live life for the day.
"Never in a million years did I think that this would happen to me.
"If I never went for that check I would have never known, because I had no symptoms."
Now Thea says she is honoured to be asked to launch the Race for Life in Glasgow, which attracted 15,000 women last year making it the biggest in the UK.
Together they raised £850,000 by running or walking the route around Glasgow Green.
"I am honoured to be asked, and I think even if my message helps one woman, that will be enough for me.
As always Thea's family will be there to support her and her daughter Pauline, 29, who is running with her.
She said: "I'm hoping they will all be on the sidelines."
"Get out and do it, it is a really good cause and it is for the benefit of the women out there.
"And they have their daughters and granddaughters to think about - so get for it."
Race organisers are calling for women across Glasgow to take part in the event and join the fight against cancer.
n To join Glasgow versus cancer, enter Race for Life 5k at www.raceforlife.org or call 0871 641 1111.