Belfast Telegraph

Clare's monster fundraising ride around Loch Ness a family affair

Clare Tayler (left) with her parents Colin and Joan Henderson and sister Jenny Dalzell when Colin received his MBE in 2013
Clare Tayler (left) with her parents Colin and Joan Henderson and sister Jenny Dalzell when Colin received his MBE in 2013
Clare Tayler on her bike
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

A Lisburn woman whose mum, dad and sister all beat cancer is getting on her bike to raise funds for the charity that provided lifeline support during her family's darkest days as they faced up to the disease.

Clare Tayler (39) now lives in Aberdeen with her husband Bob (38) and their children Anna (6) and Katie (3).

Later this month Clare will cycle 66 miles at Etape Loch Ness, a closed-road cycle race around the stunning shores of the famous lake, as a thank-you to Macmillan Cancer Support.

The family's first brush with cancer came in 1999 when her mother Joan Henderson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

She had been suffering with pain in her neck and was getting no relief despite regular physiotherapy sessions.

A scan showed that a tumour had grown on her spinal cord, shattering some of her vertebrae.

Joan (68) was a primary school teacher but had to retire because her head is now held up with steel plates, which means that she can only move from her shoulders and waist.

She had several gruelling months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy before being given the all-clear by doctors.

The family was elated that Joan had beaten the disease - but found themselves in despair again in April 2017 when Clare's sister Jenny discovered a lump on her breast.

A mammogram confirmed their worst fears: cancer had once again visited their family.

Clare said: "It was a huge shock, especially since Jenny was only 35 and a mum to two young children when diagnosed.

"She was incredibly brave throughout the whole process despite also having fibromyalgia. She had a full mastectomy and, just like my mum before her, she had to have both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

"We're all over the Moon that she's now cancer-free." However, the day in October 2017 that hairdresser Jenny finished her treatment wasn't one of celebration, as that same day her dad Colin began his treatment for pancreatic cancer. Colin (70), a retired youth officer for the South Eastern Education and Library Board, hadn't been feeling very well and had been losing weight, so went to the doctor.

Clare recalled: "He had blood tests which showed an abnormality and was actually visiting me in Scotland when told that he would need to go back to his GP.

"However, while he was here he became very jaundiced and so he and my mum cut their visit short and I travelled back to Belfast with them."

Colin was immediately admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital where doctors discovered that a tumour on his pancreas was blocking a bile duct.

He had surgery to remove parts of his stomach, small intestine and pancreas, which also eliminated the tumour.

After receiving chemotherapy, Colin battled back and is now fighting fit - so much so that he has decided to join his daughter in taking on Etape Loch Ness on April 28.

Clare, a science teacher at Harlaw Academy in Aberdeen, will be among 5,600 riders saddling up for the event, which follows a circular route around the home of the legendary 'Nessie'.

"My dad has always been really fit and there's every chance that I will struggle to keep up with him," Clare said.

"He's using Etape Loch Ness as a training run for a 250-mile cycle in a day around the coast of Northern Ireland on June 21 in aid of a pancreatic cancer charity and fibromyalgia."

Clare hopes her cycle will raise around £1,200 for Macmillan, as she and her family have really benefited from its help.

Anyone who would like to sponsor her can do so at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hendysride

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