SHE’S set to grip the nation tonight as the Asian bride who has gone through more in two years that most people do in an entire lifetime - at the age of just 36.

Syra Ali will be hitting screens as BBC Scotland’s three-part “Getting Hitched Asian Style” series gets on with episode two. Giving “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” a run for its money, viewers will get to see a lot more drama and really get behind the scenes into the amount of effort that goes into an Asian wedding.

The Wishaw woman’s story, though, is an emotional one as she reflects on her fight with breast cancer to make it down the aisle, also tackling the often taboo topics of divorce and single motherhood in the process.

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Syra let the BBC into her life for around three weeks last summer as she planned her second wedding, a lavish affair, with her help of her mum Nazma and money from dad Bobby. Although a happy occasion, at one point, Syra feared she would never be able to marry the love of her life.

“Amar and I went to school together and he was in the year above me,” she remembers. “He always liked me at school, but I left and got married and never seen him again. I then got divorced and he turned up at my coffee shop one day. Then that’s where it all started.

Evening Times:
Syra and Amar

“We got together, told our families and everything was going great. But, the week we were meant to have our engagement to make everything official, Amar’s dad passed away very suddenly. Amar was all over the place and marriage was the last thing on his mind.”

Then, just six months on, Syra received another blow: “They didn’t know where the source of the original cancer was, or how bad it was,” she explains, “because the type of breast cancer I had - triple negative - was the most aggressive type of breast cancer.

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“I was given chemotherapy and I was told we just had to take it as it came, depending on how the treatment worked. At that point, we didn’t even know if I’d survive. It was horrible.

“The tumor responded to treatment three months in, but we didn’t know how it was responding.

“My chemo finished in October 2017 and I got an operation in November to have a lump removed. I then went through another procedure to have five lymph nodes removed from under my arm before finally getting the all-clear. I found out the tumour had shrunk from 2cm to just 7mm, which was great.”

Through the good news came more worrying news. “I was told that, with the type of cancer I had, there’s a chance of recurrence in the first five years. If it does come back, it’s not curable and it’ll spread even further. I’m always paranoid and on guard for any changes. The smallest lump or bruise and I’m straight to the doctor.”

Evening Times:

During the whole time she was being treated, however, Amar, now 37, proposed to Syra in a unique and special way that it even left arguably Scotland’s biggest chatterbox speechless.

The proposal involved a Where’s Wally?-style hunt where Syra had to track Amar down from her home in Wishaw all the way to Stirling where he got down on one knee at the castle in front of a coach-load full of tourists - something she credits to her recovery.

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The mood gets serious when the topic of divorce comes up. Syra was married before, from which she had a son, Faisal, now 15. Divorce is still a taboo subject in the Asian community and Syra hopes to shake things up tonight.

“It was really difficult to talk about, especially on camera,” she sighs, “but I really did want to get that out there and so did my mum.

“In the Asian community, you’re labelled forever as ‘that divorcee’. The stigma attached to it is horrible. We just wanted to get it out there that, just because you’re divorced, it doesn’t mean your life has ended. My whole world fell apart. We just weren’t compatible. I’m just glad it happened because it meant we both could move on and be happy with other people.

“The Asian community, though, doesn’t understand that. They always want to point the finger and blame somebody.

Evening Times:
Syra dancing at her mehndi ceremony (BBC Scotland)

“When a girl is born in an Asian family, she’s looked upon like she’s a burden. But she’s not. If she does get married and it doesn’t work out., I really hope people watching the show will support her decision and just be there for her. Let her live her life the way she wants. Let her be happy. Life is too short.”

Getting back to the show, Syra says she didn’t know how much of a big deal it was going to be. “I didn’t realise I’d have to be followed about - it was like being in the Kardashians,” she laughs. “The crew was with me for around three weeks and they filmed me for six full days. They came everywhere. They felt like family.

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“I hope the show makes me and my family come across as genuine and not neddy,” she chuckles. “When you hear us speak, we’re just Scottish. The English mum from last week was so prim and proper. We’re just a normal family from Wishaw. There are no airs and graces about us.

“I think people have this perception that Asians are quite prim and proper and not very approachable. We’re just the same as everyone else.”

Evening Times:
Syra and Amar on their wedding day

Syra just about bursts with excitement as she reveals she’s expecting a new addition to the family in just three weeks. “Life has been amazing since the show,” she says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better husband. Amar’s my best friend. Life is fun and now we’ve a baby on the way.”

Viewers can look forward to a lot of drama tonight, says Syra. “Wherever there’s Syra, there’s a lot of drama! It’ll be emotional. We’ve kept it real so people will be able to relate to it.”

The new wife looks set to be a popular figure after the show airs. Will we be seeing more of her in the near future? “I’m hoping you do,” she says coyly.

Catch Getting Hitched Asian Style on BBC Scotland tonight at 8pm.