Bishopbriggs TV presenter Laura Boyd, who is marking a decade since a cancer diagnosis, has teamed up with a top Glasgow scientist to launch Stand Up To Cancer in Scotland.
Laura, who recently announced she is expecting a baby via a surrogate, met with cancer researcher Professor Mhairi Copland to make a stand against the disease.
Laura credits her survival to the scientists and doctors carrying out life-saving research to find new treatments for her type of cancer, called chronic myeloid leukaemia, or CML.
The energetic 38-year-old broadcaster, a well-known face on STV, said: “Research is key to me being alive today. Until I was diagnosed, I didn’t even think about it. But once cancer affects you, or a family member, it becomes so important to you. And you realise how vital funding and fundraising is to the scientists doing that work.
“I owe my life to the researchers because they’re constantly coming up with new ways and new drugs to treat CML. With this type of cancer, you can become immune to the medication that you’re on. But luckily, the science is advancing all the time so there are other new drugs to try.”
She continued: “I know of someone who was diagnosed 20 years ago with the same type of cancer as me, and she’s no longer with us because the research wasn’t there, the drugs weren’t there. I just think I’m in such a lucky position.”
Scientist Mhairi, who is also a blood cancer doctor based at the Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre at the University of Glasgow, is leading a study with funding from Stand Up To Cancer to test new treatment options for CML and develop a blood test to monitor the disease.
She said: “Our hope is that this study will help more patients with difficult-to-treat CML to survive and give them more time with their families with better quality of life.”
From climbing Ben Nevis, to open water swimming, to abseiling down the Wallace Monument, Laura says living with cancer has given her a new appreciation for life – and she is always first and last on the dance floor.
And now, 10 years since she first heard doctors say the word ‘cancer’, Laura is looking forward to an exciting new chapter in her life.
With the help of a surrogate, she and her husband are expecting their first baby.
For Laura to carry a pregnancy herself she would need to stop taking her medication, putting her at risk of her cancer growing.
A family member came forward with the offer to be a surrogate, and the couple will become parents to a daughter in December.
Laura said: “We are absolutely overjoyed. It’s something I always wanted, but I always put it to the back of my mind because of my cancer.
“It’s been a very difficult journey to get to this point, but it’s totally worth it.
“I’m so looking forward to being a mum, it gives me something to live for.”
On reaching the ten-year milestone since receiving her cancer diagnosis, Laura says she has mixed feelings.
She said: “The ten-year mark is really strange. It’s amazing, but what most people think is it’s ten years without cancer, they think I’m cured.
“But with this type of leukaemia, it’s always there, so that’s quite strange.
“I find it a real time to reflect on everything that I’ve gone through. But overall, I’m just so grateful to still be here because, if I rewind to this time ten years ago, I didn’t think I would be.”
Laura and Mhairi are calling on Scots to get involved in Stand Up To Cancer’s ‘Fortnight of Fundraising’ from October 11-25.
A joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4, Stand Up To Cancer unites scientists, celebrities and communities across the UK, raising money to take developments from the lab and transform them, quickly, into new tests and treatments.