MSP’s widow in cancer battle

Linda Johnstone is hold the fundraising event in support of Myeloma UK
Linda Johnstone is hold the fundraising event in support of Myeloma UK

The widow of a North-east MSP, who died of cancer three years ago, has revealed she is now battling the disease.

Linda Johnstone has been diagnosed with myeloma, a rare and incurable blood cancer which originates in the bone marrow.

Her husband Alex, a Scottish Conservative MSP, passed away in 2016 aged 55.

She received the shock diagnosis following a battery of tests after suffering a range of ‘aches and pains’.

Mrs Johnstone, who lives in Stonehaven, also has another type of blood cancer called amyloidosis – a rare, serious condition caused by the build-up of an abnormal protein in organs and tissues.

She has undergone chemotherapy over the summer, but now faces a stem cell transplant after having her own immature stem cells harvested over a three-day period in August.

In the next stage of treatment, the mother-of-two will have the stem cells transfused back in a process that could see her kept in semi–isolation in hospital for up to a month.

Mrs Johnstone said: “Just before the stem cell transplant, I will be given a large dose of chemotherapy which will kill off my immune system to allow the new cells to begin functioning normally, but a side effect of this is that my hair will fall out.”

She added that for many people, especially women, losing hair during chemotherapy treatment can be particularly distressing, but she wanted to “turn a negative into a positive” and raise much needed funds to help find a cure for the disease.

To that end, Mrs Johnstone is to have her head shaved to raise funds for Myeloma UK.

She said: “I am hugely grateful to the many medical professionals who have been involved in my treatment so far.

“I’ve also been extremely fortunate in being given the chance of a stem cell transplant, as although the type of cancer I have is incurable, it is treatable and it can be managed.”

The fund-raising event will be held on Monday, September 16, at the Belvedere Hotel in Stonehaven at 7pm.

It will include a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses.

Mrs Johnstone would like to encourage as many people as possible to come along to the event, and if anyone would like to make a donation she can be contacted through her Facebook page ‘Myeloma and me- Lindas Journey’.

Mr Johnstone represented North East Scotland in an unbroken record of service going back to the formation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

Tributes to him were paid from across the political divide.

Born in Kincardineshire in 1961 and educated at Mackie Academy in Stonehaven, he spent his entire life in the North east, where he built a successful career as a self-employed dairy and arable farmer.

Earlier this year, Mrs Johnstone installed a bench at Glenbervie Cemetery in memory of her husband.