THIS Christmas, Kirsteen McGroarty has big plans.

She’ll be shopping, singing in a choir, spoiling her daughter Lara and doing a hundred festive things most people take for granted.

It’s a very different story to the one which played out this time last year.

Then, the 49-year-old from Paisley was being treated for acute myeloid leukaemia, battling exhaustion, and worrying what the future would hold for her daughter.

“When I was diagnosed, all I could think about was what would happen to Lara if the worst were to happen,” says Kirsteen, softly.

“I was absolutely devastated. I had never been ill in my life and was so shocked this was happening to me.”

Kirsteen, who is digital delivery manager for the Student Loans Company in Glasgow, had been battling constant cold and flu symptoms and antibiotics were not helping, so doctors did further tests and discovered she had a low blood count.

She adds: “Initially, they were looking into different types of blood disorders, but when I told them I was having pains in my ribs, they tested my bone marrow, and that’s when they found it.”

Kirsteen needed a stem cell transplant.

She recalls: “The doctors told me it was a huge risk, but I knew it was the best chance I had to survive, and to see my daughter grow up.”

Kirsteen’s sister Paula was an exact match for the transplant, and she was back on her feet two weeks later.

She may look a little familiar to our readers - as she is one of the faces appearing on billboards all over the city helping to promote the Beatson Bauble campaign this Christmas.

Lara appears on the posters too, much to her mum’s delight.

“This time last year I was recovering from my treatment - this year, I’ll be leading the choir with colleagues at my workplace, raising funds for Beatson Cancer Charity and looking forward to a happy Christmas,” she smiles.

The Beatson Bauble appeal encourages everyone to buy a bauble and add a message for a friend or loved one on the dedicated page ( to raise funds for the charity over the festive period.

Scottish stars including Game of Thrones actress Kate Dickie, Line of Duty actor Martin Compston, TV presenter Lorraine Kelly and singer and singer KT Tunstall have designed special, unmissable 120cm-high baubles for the appeal.

Other grateful patients and supporters helped to launch the appeal in Glasgow today (Tuesday), including firefighter Stephen McGrath, the Beatson’s own volunteer engagement officer Paul Sheerin and Still Game actress Jane McCarry.

Throughout his battle with cancer, Stephen McGrath’s dad was always there for his son.

Pat McGrath was a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear - and even a taxi service, ferrying his son to and from the Beatson for treatment.

“My dad was my rock,” says Stephen, who was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014. “Throughout it all, he was there for me.”

Tragically, as Stephen began his long fight back to health, his dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour and he died earlier this year.

Stephen, who is from the Gorbals, will be taking part in the Beatson Bauble Christmas campaign this year in memory of his dad.

It will also be a chance for him and his family – wife Leah and sons, Kyle and Connor – to pay tribute to the staff who cared for him during his own treatment for cancer.

He adds: “We are so grateful for all of the support the charity gives – it really does make a difference.”

Paul Sheerin was diagnosed with testicular cancer four and a half years ago and just a few weeks after treatment, was told it had spread to his stomach.

Paul and his wife Louise, who have three boys - Corey, five, Max, three and baby Jack - are supporting the appeal.

“The staff at the Beatson are amazing,” says Paul. “Everyone there is with you every step of the way.

“I’m living proof that you can survive cancer, but without the help and care I was given by everyone at the Beatson, it would have been a much harder journey.”

Actress Jane McCarry, who plays Isa in hit BBC Scotland comedy Still Game, designed a fairy-inspired Beatson Bauble for the campaign.

She adds: “Christmas brings out the best in folk. It’s a time for hope, faith and charity and the Beatson sits at the heart of that.

“As I usually play the fairy godmother in panto every year, I thought a wee bit of magic and fairy sparkle would be just the thing for my Christmas bauble.”

Support the appeal at – and look out for the giant celebrity-designed baubles in locations all over the west of Scotland.