Marykirk woman’s tribute

A MARYKIRK woman has tackled her grief over losing her mother and sister to cancer by taking on an unusual challenge to raise money for Bare All For Brain Tumours.

Gayna Sandeman was devastated when she lost her mother Linda to ovarian cancer in June 2003 at the age of 49, after previously surviving breast cancer.

Her sister Michelle also battled breast cancer, having been diagnosed while six months pregnant with her fourth child. Following a double mastectomy, and operations to have her lymph nodes and her ovaries removed she was recovering when she was found to have an inoperable brain tumour.

She died at the age of 37 in November last year, leaving behind her partner and four children, Bethan (16), Ryan (14), Fin (10) and Nathan (3).

Gayna decided to pay tribute to her sister’s bravery by taking part in a fire walk on Sunday, where participants are required to walk across hot coals. She has so far raised £700 for charity.

She said: “I chose to do a fire walk to try to show a fraction of strength and courage that Michelle demonstrated on a daily basis and to show my niece and nephews that anything is possible.

“I chose to raise money for Bare All For Brain Tumours an umbrella group under the Joseph Foote Fundraising Trust Charity.

“I have so far raised £700, and I am still collecting sponsors. The day was very emotional as I reflected on mine and my familys devastating loss but I felt very empowered and proud of myself. To have lost my big sister is the hardest thing I have ever had to cope with, she was my best friend. I feel privileged to have known her and to have all the happy memories we share. If this fundraising event goes some small way to help another family avoid the type of loss we have suffered then that makes me happy.”

Gayna and Michelle had been planning to take part in the Moonwalk in Edinburgh together on June 9 this year to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research and Gayna said that she still plans to take part with Michelle’s daughter Bethan and Bethan’s cousin Zoe Edwards. There is still time to make a donation to Gayna’s fire walk achievement by visiting To sponsor Gayna for her Moonwalk in Edinburgh visit for the moonwalk. (See page 12 for a photo of Gayna and her sister Michelle)