A Stuartfield family has turned its grief at losing a mum to cancer and a dad to suicide into a positive – by raising money for charities.
It is 20 years since Neil Robertson-Murray’s wife, Naomi, lost her mum to cancer and her dad shortly after to suicide.
She was then diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 - despite gene testing showing that she did not carry the BRAC 1 or 2 gene which increases the risk of developing the disease.
Although he never met the mother or father-in-law who have become such a huge influence on his life, Neil was determined to do something to both keep their memory alive and celebrate his wife’s courageous journey.
Neil plans to cycle 5,000 miles this year and has the aim of raising £1 for each mile clocked up in the saddle.
He’ll get his campaign underway later this month at Etape Loch Ness – Scotland’s largest closed-road sportive – where he’ll be one of hundreds of cyclists riding for the official charity partner, Macmillan Cancer Support.
Neil explained: “We were on holiday in Canada when Naomi found a lump on her breast and because of her family history, losing her mum to breast cancer when she was aged only 38, she was fast-tracked.
“As soon as it was confirmed, Naomi started chemotherapy and had six rounds of it. Next followed a double mastectomy and 15 days of radiotherapy. She was absolutely amazing through it all and so incredibly brave.
“The thing that actually got both of us through the treatment was focusing on fund-raising. We wanted to do something positive and not just focus on the negatives: it really kept us going to know that we were helping to make a difference.”
The couple already had one daughter, Layla, when Naomi started treatment.
Because of her young age, doctors asked the couple if they wanted to consider harvesting Naomi’s eggs, but they decided not to delay treatment, that what would be would be and they would let nature take its course.
Neil said: “We were told that the chances of us having any more children would be slim, but three months after Naomi got the all-clear, we found out she was pregnant.
“We now have a beautiful, smiling 11-month-old baby girl, Leilani. It wasn’t an easy pregnancy and Naomi was understandably so tired after what her body when through, but yet again she showed just how strong she is.”
With so much going on in his home life, Neil, who was once a very keen footballer, turned to fitness.
He signed up to take part in the 2018 Etape Loch Ness, a 66-mile cycle on closed roads around the famous loch, and he’s been hooked ever since.
Neil added: “Although I am riding Etape Loch Ness for Macmillan, I plan to support a few different charities to mark the 20th anniversary of Naomi’s mum’s death.
“One of the main charities is the development of a world-class cancer research centre at Aberdeen University and we’ll also be donating some funds to mental health charities, as this is another illness that has touched our family.”
Once he’s recovered from Etape Loch Ness, Neil will be limbering up for a sponsored cycle to Manchester.
To support Neil’s visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NeilRobertsonMurray.