26th February 2019 by Graham Martin. 

A woman who survived breast cancer twice and wrote a book about it is urging Scots to help save lives.

Alison Demarco has written Dark Storms, Golden Journey which vividly recalls what it was like going through the disease.

Now to help others, Alison does voluntary work every weekend and would love people to join her.

She’s urging Scots to attend an open day at the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Corstorphine superstore on Saturday, 2 March between 10am and 2pm.

Volunteers including Alison will be on hand to chat about potential volunteering opportunities across the charity including everything from dressing a charity shop window to helping out at Race for Life events in Scotland or becoming a CRUK ambassador and lobbying MSPs and MPs to keep cancer care at the top of the agenda.

Alison, 63, knows exactly how vital new developments and breakthroughs are in helping people survive cancer. Her life was turned upside down in July 1991 after tests at the Bupa Murrayfield hospital in Scotland’s capital revealed breast cancer. She was just 32 then and her children Daryl and Tara were both still in primary school.

Alison of Edinburgh said: “In that split second, I felt as if my head was going to explode and my heart felt as if it had dropped to my feet.

“My world came crashing down before me. Fear obliterated my thinking and I believed my life was over. My next thoughts were for my young children and how they would manage without a mother. I felt numb and lost.”

Alison endured lumpectomy surgery to remove the tumour from her left breast followed by radiotherapy. She also was prescribed the hormone therapy treatment tamoxifen which she took for the next five years to help stop the cancer from returning.

CRUK researchers helped prove the benefits of taking tamoxifen after surgery for women with the most common type of breast cancer. Around eight in 10 women now survive for at least 10 years, thanks in part to this life saving treatment.

But 15 years later in April 2006 Alison was devastated after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the same breast for a second time.

She had moved to Paphos in Cyprus to enjoy a more relaxed way of life but all that went on hold when she was told she had cancer. She had more surgery and has remained cancer free since. Months later it was a special moment walking along a beach that helped her heal psychologically.

Alison said: “There lying at my foot, lodged between all the different shades and sizes of grey pebbles on the stony beach was a beautiful, small heart shaped amber stone. Picking up the stone, I held it in my right hand and as I did so a sense of peace washed over me. I knew I was going to be okay.”

Alison started volunteering at the CRUK superstore at Corstorphine retail park last year and loves the weekend shifts there. The superstore has raised £2 million for Cancer Research UK since it opened.

Alison said: “A new journey opened up for me when I volunteered at a Cancer Research UK shop.

“I was amazed by all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes and it’s incredible the dedicated research that is being done in the science laboratories to understand cancer and find a cure. Survival rates are higher than they have ever been, breakthroughs are happening and I believe we have turned a corner in the treatment of cancer.”

More volunteers are needed to help run the Corstorphine superstore.

Flexible hours are available. The shop is open Monday to Friday, 9am until 6.30pm, Saturdays 9.30am until 6pm and Sundays 11am to 5pm.


Pictured: CRUK Corstorphine superstore manager Joe Orrock with Alison Demarco.