Anita makes her fight to beat cancer into a musical

A GLASGOW mum who survived breast cancer has written a musical about her experience to raise money for charity.

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Anita, who is putting on a Kylie musical, shows off her hula hoop skills as she prepares for today's Cancer Slam. Picture: Mark Gibson
Anita, who is putting on a Kylie musical, shows off her hula hoop skills as she prepares for today's Cancer Slam. Picture: Mark Gibson

Anita Neilson - whose show, Your Disco Needs You, is based around the hits of Kylie Minogue - is hoping to inspire women to enter Cancer Research UK's Race for Life.

The 49-year-old mum from Bearsden will join a team of dancers on Buchanan Street today to perform Race for Life's Cancer Slam.

Organisers hope the event will get shoppers dancing on the spot and motivate mums, grans, daughters, sisters and friends to sign-up for Race For Life.

A big screen near the Royal Concert Hall will show the full Cancer Slam routine and the six individual steps so shoppers can join in.

Nurse lecturer and researcher Anita was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2005.

Her treatment, which included radiotherapy and chemotherapy, was successful but last year, she tested positive as a carrier of the defective BRCA2 gene.

Anita decided to follow in the footsteps of Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who also carries the gene, and get preventative surgery in the form of a double mastectomy.

She explains: "I was always afraid the cancer would come back and felt a bit like a ticking time bomb. This put my mind at rest and it feels like a weight lifted. Now I don't feel scared."

The idea for writing a musical - which is about two breast cancer patients who enter a dance contest to save their local studio - came as she recovered from her treatment.

"I was diagnosed three months after Kylie and I've always been a big fan," explains Anita, who lives in Bearsden with her husband Andrew and son Declan, 18.

"Declan was nine at the time and we didn't really know how to tell him. But Kylie was in the press talking about her experience and that helped, because we could say, 'look how Kylie is getting better and how happy she is. That's just what mummy will be like.'"

She grins: "So I decided to write a musical, kind of as a tribute to Kylie, as she was such an inspiration to me. And for my 50th birthday, with a lot of help from friends who are in the business - and hopefully a few celebrities - I plan to stage it at the Mitchell Theatre, from October 24 to 26.

"It's a love story, about cancer and survival and fitness - and there's some hula-hooping too…"

Before then, however, Anita is taking part in the Race for Life in Glasgow, on May 4. She is running for her sister Marina, 46, who is recovering from breast cancer surgery. She said: "It was running that got me through treatment. It made me feel normal. I didn't feel good just sitting at home but when I went running I wasn't as tired and I think my outlook was a lot more positive. I believe it was running that helped me fight cancer into remission."

To enter Race for Life and learn how to do the 'Cancer Slam' visit www.raceforlife.org

ann.fotheringham@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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