AN INSPIRATIONAL Borders woman has been chosen to launch this year's World Cancer Day in Scotland.

Maureen Fox, 50, from Stow was first diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2021.

Now cancer free, Maureen has been spurred on to follow her dream to train as a teacher.

She said: “Coming through cancer made me feel like I had been given a second chance at life.

“I’m absolutely bursting with excitement to finally become a primary school teacher.

"Of course, it was scary going back to studying but I am loving it. There’s a joy and hope I find in being a student teacher and in knowing that I have kicked cancer.

"My dad Patrick, step mum Catherine and my daughter Georgia are my anchors and I couldn’t have got through any of this without them. I’ve been fortunate to have had amazing doctors and a fabulous medical team.

“Whenever I feel down or afraid I remember there’s so much good and positivity out there. I’m feeling grateful for all the wonderful things in my life and for knowing it’s no good going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

Border Telegraph: Maureen with her 83-year-old dad PatrickMaureen with her 83-year-old dad Patrick (Image: Maureen Fox)

Maureen is set to graduate from the University of the Highlands and Islands this summer, and is already looking forward to teaching her own class.

After receiving her diagnosis two years ago, Maureen underwent surgery and radiotherapy during the coronavirus pandemic, and is now taking the medication Tamoxifen which she will continue to take for the next 10 years.

Maureen said: “We have an expression in our family, ‘mony a mickle maks a muckle and even if it’s only a few pounds a month, every little helps.

“For me personally, benefitting from treatments like Tamoxifen has allowed me to have a future and how many more people can we help if we continue to support research?”

Tamoxifen is a life-saving hormone therapy drug which Cancer Research UK researchers proved was effective as a cancer treatment for premenopausal women.

Border Telegraph: Maureen (right) with her big sister Sandra (left) when they were childrenMaureen (right) with her big sister Sandra (left) when they were children (Image: Maureen Fox)

Last year Maureen's family suffered further heartbreak when her sister, Sandra Fox, died last year from early onset dementia at the age of 52.

Maureen said: “My beloved big sister lived in Canada and had suffered from dementia for many years.

“She fought so hard and was taken too young. I had planned to travel out to visit her this year and feel so sad I don’t have that chance.

"I will miss her always and losing her makes me see how short life can be.”

Maureen hopes that by sharing her story, she can raise awareness of the signs of cancer, as well as inspiring others to mark World Cancer Day and support Cancer Research UK.

In January 2021 Maureen discovered a lump in her breast, at first she dismissed it as 'just a fatty lump'.

It wasn't until she noticed that the lump hadn't gone away that she spoke to her GP and was referred to Borders General Hospital (BGH) for further investigation.

As this was during the pandemic, Maureen attended her appointment alone, where she had an allergic reaction to the iodine used ahead of her biopsy test, and went into anaphylactic shock.

“The staff were trying to tell me that they suspected I had cancer while also giving me adrenalin because I had had a severe allergic reaction," said Maureen. "I then had to go to A&E for six hours as a precaution.

"I remember sitting there thinking ‘do I have cancer?’

“It was a very scary time.

“I worried about how long I had cancer and if it had spread.”

She added that sharing the news with her daughter Georgia and her dad Patrick, was one of the hardest things to do.

Border Telegraph: Maureen (right) with her daughter Georgia (left)Maureen (right) with her daughter Georgia (left) (Image: Maureen Fox)

In October 2022 Maureen and her family celebrated one year of her getting the all-clear from cancer.

Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “This World Cancer Day, we want to say a heartfelt thank you to our customers, donors and supporters like Maureen.

“Thanks to their generosity and commitment to the cause, we’ve been at the forefront of cancer research for over 120 years and we’re not stopping now. Regular giving is crucial to our work, because it means we can fund long term research – research that could lead to new discoveries about cancer and unlock new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat it.

“One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime, but all of us can help beat it. So, we hope more people across Scotland will donate monthly - if they can. We’re working towards a world where we can all live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer.”

Cancer Research UK was able to spend more than £33m in Scotland last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

World Cancer Day is held on Saturday, February 4.

For more information, and to donate to Cancer Research UK, click here.