WHEN Mhairi Black battles to the finish of Glasgow's Race for Life, every single step will be a tribute to her hero mum.

In decades as a nurse at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, May Black devoted her life to saving others before she died of breast cancer at just 54.

Now her memory has inspired her own daughter's determination to save lives by raising cash to help find a cure to the devastating disease.

Mhairi, 19, from Baillieston, said: "I'd love for mum to still be here so she could be proud of me.

"I was only 13 when mum died and I miss her all the time. We were really close and I know we'd have a brilliant relationship now. I'd love to have the chance to be best friends as well as mum and daughter. I'd love to tell her all about my job, my boyfriend, my car and my wish that no-one else has to go through cancer."

Mhari was just nine when her mum sat down at the dinner table to tell her and brother Paul, now 24, that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The first person Mhairi turned to was childhood friend Ashleigh Nelson, now 19, who will be joining her running the Cancer Research UK Race for Life at Glasgow Green tomorrow, along with more than 14,000 other women.

Mhairi said: "Straight after my mum told me I went over the road to my friend Ashleigh's house.

"Ashleigh has been there for me all the way through. She's the best friend you could have. Mum facing cancer just ­became part of all our lives. We were always honest with each other as a family. Nothing was hidden."

For four years, May battled cancer bravely. A short time after being diagnosed, she had a mastectomy and surgeons also removed the lymph nodes in her affected arm, before treatment with both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. May even managed to return to work at the renal unit at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, before the cancer spread to her lungs and it became clear she wasn't going to recover. She died on August 26 2007.

Mhairi said: "Right up until the last couple of weeks, mum was always busy doing things for us then everything changed.

"I remember I went up to the hospital to see my mum. My mum tried to explain she was going to pass away and there wasn't much more that could be done for her. I wanted to be there for my Mum. I wanted her to come home so I could help look after her.

"Mum came home and we were all there when she died. My dad, my aunt, my brother and me. We were all there to hold her hand. It was a lot to happen at 13 and I grew up very quickly. Everyone says I have an old head on young shoulders."

And only a few weeks after saying goodbye to her mum for the final time, Mhairi read a letter for the first time that is now her most treasured memory. Written in her mum's neat writing it was signed, Always in my heart, love Mum. Mhairi's dad Gordon, 56, had kept it for her.

Mhairi, who now works in pay roll for an accountancy firm, said: "My mum had written it to me on Millennium Eve.

"Mum was on nightshift as a nurse and thought she'd take 10 minutes out to write me a letter. I was only five at the time but Mum was writing about all her hopes and dreams for me.

"It's something I'll treasure forever. The letter said she thinks I'm a precious gift and her wish for me as I grew older was that I could be everything I wanted to be in life.

"I'm lucky to have had such a wonderful mum and she'll be there in my thoughts all the time at the Race for Life."