Cancer fighter’s epic 5k-a-day challenge for charity

Margaret Donald, 82, underwent a mastectomy in July but has been out fundraising for Friends of Anchor.

Cancer fighter’s epic 5k-a-day challenge for charity Facebook

An 82-year-old woman who underwent a mastectomy this summer in her third battle against cancer has set herself an epic fundraising challenge.

Margaret Donald has vowed to walk 5k every day until a charity event postponed due to coronavirus can go ahead.

Friends of Anchor’s annual Courage on the Catwalk was set to take place in May, but was cancelled amid the pandemic and is yet to be rescheduled.

Mrs Donald, who was chosen to be one of the event’s models, has already walked more than 150k since starting her fundraiser on October 1, and has promised to keep pounding the pavement until the show can go on.

On days when the weather keeps her indoors, she will make up the distance on another.

The Aberdeen pensioner, who set herself a target of £500, has raised more than £1500 so far.

She told STV News: “The donors have given me a spring in my step.”

Mrs Donald was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. She overcame the disease, but was then hit with a oesophageal cancer diagnosis in 2012.

She continued to fight on, but earlier this year received a further diagnosis of breast cancer after noticing her breast had changed shape.

She underwent a mastectomy in July and said her recovery has been “nothing short of a miracle” as she hasn’t had a single painkiller since her operation.

However, the cancer has spread into nodes where surgery is not an option.

Mrs Donald, a former announcer at Grampian TV, said each of her cancer diagnoses have come at a time when she has been under severe stress, which included the heartbreak of losing her much-loved sister.

Her husband is also currently fighting his second cancer diagnosis, but she is “adamant” he’s going to pull through.

The mum-of-one and grandmother-of-two said: “Stress is a big factor when it comes to cancer. When stress becomes continuous, that’s when it’s dangerous.”

Inspired by another cancer patient’s story, Mrs Donald believes when you “have something to reach out to, with a genuine heartfelt desire, it affects the immune system” and gives you a “better chance of survival”.

She believes “everything happens for a reason” and prayed during her first bout with cancer that if she got better, she would go on and help other people. She did, and she has.

Speaking about her fundraising challenge, Mrs Donald said: “I was a runner. I’ve always been active and I’m determined not to lose that.

“I wanted to turn the walking into fundraising to give it purpose and make it fulfilling.

“I’m loving my walks. When I’m out, I don’t think about the nodes or cancer. I’m lucky that I’m wired to seek for a solution.”

Mrs Donald chose to fundraise for Friends of Anchor due to the “exceptional” support she has received from the charity, which has served oncology and haematology patients throughout the north-east of Scotland, including Orkney and Shetland, for more than 20 years.

Friends of Anchor came into Mrs Donald’s life when she was at a “low ebb” during her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment in 2012.

One day, whilst undergoing gruelling treatment in hospital, she spotted the charity’s volunteers offering reflexology.

She said: “I thought, ‘I’d love that’. It was astonishing how quickly that benefit was for me.”

Mrs Donald hopes the money raised from her walks will benefit other patients.

As well as support from her family and friends, neighbours have also got behind her campaign.

After her story was shared in a community WhatsApp group, her fundraising total shot up by hundreds of pounds.

Mrs Donald added: “I found that deeply moving and was honoured. It is an honour to have someone support your cause.”

To keep up-to-date with Mrs Donald’s adventure, click here.