Denny mum Norma continues to enjoy life despite cancer battle

Norma Woods was one of 20 models at a recent charity fashion show. Picture: Michael Gillen
Norma Woods was one of 20 models at a recent charity fashion show. Picture: Michael Gillen

In her own words, Norma Woods has had a year full of ups and downs.

Suffering from an incurable form of cancer, she has had to go through more than most when it comes to difficult news, uncertainty and facing up to tests of her strength of character.

SFFH_Norma Woods. Breast Cancer Care Scotland. Scottish Fashion Show

SFFH_Norma Woods. Breast Cancer Care Scotland. Scottish Fashion Show

When she last spoke to The Falkirk Herald in October, she was looking forward to being mother-of-the-groom at her son’s wedding and walking down the catwalk as a model in a fundraising charity show.

Both events have been extremely important to the Denny mum-of-two since she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in her bones which currently can’t be cured.

Norma (55) said: “I really enjoyed both the wedding and the fashion show.

“The weather was lovely for the wedding and everything went smoothly, and the fashion show was fantastic.

“I thought I would be nervous but I just enjoyed it; it was a lot of fun.”

But a week later, she was brought back down to earth with a thump.”

After months of coping with a complex bone tumour on her left leg, Norma has discovered that her leg will have to be amputated.

She said: “They have told me that amputation is really the only option,

“But I think I had kind of gotten my head round it.

“It was causing me a lot of pain and the shape of it meant it was becoming very difficult to get in and out the car.

“It was really a dead weight, and now I’m just looking at the positives, one of which will be a life without pain.

“There are also lots of people with one or no legs, and I actually think I’ll be able to do many more things that at the moment I can’t. But it is something that’s going to take time to get used to.

Because the leg will have to be amputated high in the hip, Norma won’t be able to have a prosthetic leg, so it will be crutches or a wheelchair.

“I know that once it’s done there’s no going back, and I suppose I won’t really know how I’ll feel or how my body will respond to it,” she said.

“But I am glad I was able to enjoy goals like my son’s wedding and the fashion show with both my legs.”

Norma was one of 20 inspiring models who took to the catwalk in Glasgow last month for a charity fashion show which raised a record-breaking £180,000.

Over 800 people attended The Breast Cancer Care 
Show, an event which celebrates life after a breast 
cancer diagnosis.

Models were transformed from top to toe by Edinburgh-based stylist Ian Tod in clothes by House of Fraser, with make-up by The Academy of Make-up and their hair styled by Sassoon.

Nicolas White, head of Breast Cancer Care Scotland, said: “We’re delighted to have raised an amazing £180,000 at this year’s Breast Cancer Care fashion show Scotland.

“It was inspirational to see the models proudly walking down the catwalk in front of their friends and family.

“The money raised from the event will help fund our vital support services for women and men living with, through and beyond breast cancer across Scotland.”

Support that could be delivered right here in Falkirk and which would be accessible to people in Forth Valley was one of the things on Norma’s wish list following her secondary diagnosis.

She had struggled to find a local support group and someone to talk to about her fears and concerns about treatment.

A huge step towards that wish happened in October when three new services were launched by the then Minister for Public Health, MSP Michael Matheson at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

Working in partnership with the local health authority, Breast Cancer Care Scotland announced the arrival of a vital network of support for those dealing with a diagnosis to those whose condition is incurable.

A Living with Secondary Breast Cancer course now runs in Falkirk’s Park Hotel.

Angela Harris, the UK-wide services co-ordinator working on services in Forth Valley, says the first sessions were very well attended.

She said: “When a group starts in a new area, you do expect the numbers to be low and that they will build slowly.

“But for our first session in Falkirk in October, we had 15 people register which is brilliant and we had about 12 make it along, which is again a very high number.

“The feedback we have had from the two sessions that have been held has been amazing.

“Each and every one of them say they would recommend these sessions, and a lady who saw the session advertised in The Falkirk Herald said how important it was to keep sessions like this going and how beneficial they are.

“There’s no way I can tell people with secondary cancer that I know exactly how they feel, but the people in the group can.

“I know people may think that these kind of support groups are not for them, but all I would say is come along and just try it out once.”

Norma added: “Support like this is really important, and I hope that people who are affected do go along.

“There may be people out there who were like me and feel they are isolated.

“I also remember having a lot of questions on matters like pain management and how people cope with treatment and side effects and there was nobody to answer them.”

For Norma, she is nowlooking forward to enjoying Christmas with her family and intends to keep dealing with everything that comes at her one day at a time and by looking forward to happy and fun events on the horizon.

Anyone interested in the Living with Secondary Breast Cancer group can phone 0345 077 1893.