Tributes paid to brave Cambuslang hairdresser Mandy
Sep 19 2012
by Kenny Smith, Rutherglen Reformer
TRIBUTES have been paid to Cambuslang hairdresser Mandy McMillan, who has passed away after a long and brave fight against cancer.
Mandy (37), who worked at Clippers hairdressers on Cambuslang Main Street, became famous after becoming the first woman in Britain to give birth to a healthy baby while taking the life-saving cancer drug Herceptin.
Brave Mandy wrote a book chronicling the highs and lows she experienced after being aggressively ravaged by breast cancer, but she and husband Scott were stunned when she became pregnant and went on to give birth to a healthy daughter.
Mandy, of Muirhead, North Lanarkshire, discovered a lump on her breast while showering, aged just 27. A year later she was diagnosed with secondary cancer.
At the age of 29 doctors found an incurable spread, but brave Mandy fought on.
Sadly, her cancer returned, and she passed away on Friday.
In a statement released on Friday by her book publishers, they said: “It is with profound sadness that we have to inform you that Mandy McMillan passed away on Friday morning. She was 37. Some of you, who knew Mandy personally, will already be coping with this awful news. Others, who learned of her only through her extraordinary book, will be shocked but we’re afraid Mandy’s health deteriorated quickly over the past few weeks. Our thoughts are now with the wonderful family whose love and unwavering support gave her so much strength and who fired her determination never to give up.
“Please be assured of one thing: Mandy never gave up. She was brave and beautiful and compassionate to the last, and she was surrounded by love.
“Plans are afoot to honour Mandy in practical ways, ways that she liked, such as fundraising for breast cancer charities, so please feel free to use this site as a forum to discuss ideas. In the meantime, if we can suggest a way to remember her it would be to take stock of the marvellous things in your life and enjoy every minute of them, squeeze the last drop of fun out of every get-together, hug your friends and your kids and your family like you really mean it. That’s what Mandy would do. She loved life and she lived it, truly lived it. That’s why we’re all better for knowing her.”
Mandy started worked at Clippers for in 1994, and many have paid tribute to her online.
One Facebook tribute, from Anne Guthrie, said: “Mandy was the lady who cut my husband and son’s hair then I read her book and found out she was SO much more, brave, courageous, dignified and a lovely person who lived life to the full. I can honestly say her book is one of the best and most inspirational I’ve ever read and re-read.”
And Michelle Wyper added: “Saddened to hear this terrible news. Mandy’s story was so inspirational and moving”.
Speaking exactly two years ago, she told the Reformer: “It’s ongoing for me. I finished chemo just before Christmas and had surgery in May so I’m only on the Herceptin, which is good.
“There’s only two ways you can go; you can either fight it, or you don’t.
“My attitude is to make a fight of it, and all that’s gone into my book. I don’t know where I got my attitude from, as I didn’t even know I had one until this all came along. People say they think I’m brave, but I don’t think I am - I’ve just got to get on with it.”
In May, 2005, Mandy defied the odds and gave birth to Holly - weighing just 3lb 14oz - via caesarean section.
Two years ago, Holly started at Chryston Primary School. Mandy told the Reformer: “It’s been a real rollercoaster of emotions as you’re all up and down; you get all excited about it, but I’ve also missed spending so much time with her because of the time I’ve been in hospital.
“I know she’s got to grow up and getting to see her go to school was a dream I didn’t think I’d get to see.”
Having been through a horrendous ordeal, Mandy committed her experiences to paper, in a book Why Not Me? - The battle for my life and my baby.
And she was been delighted by the reaction the book had from her customers and friends in Cambuslang.
She said: “It was quite hard letting everyone know what I’d written, especially in Cambuslang. People knew I’d been ill but didn’t quite know the extent of it all.
“It didn’t bother me that people I didn’t know would find out what had been going on, but those who did were finding out everything, which made me feel a bit uneasy for some reason.
“But the important thing is, if it helps someone, then it’s all the more worthwhile. I know everyone says it, but you’ve got to try to have a positive mental attitude as it does go a long way.
“Even something as simple as getting up in the morning and going to work helps to keep me sane.”
Mandy McMillan’s book Why Not Me? is published by Hachette Scotland, and is available priced £7.99.