Angus pals devastated by the tragedy of losing their young wives to cancer will take on a summer solstice golf challenge in tribute to their memory and the “amazing” work of Maggie’s.
David McFarlane, 42, and 36-year-old Iain Evans from Carnoustie have bravely spoken of their shared experience after enduring the same devastating heartbreak just months apart.
David’s wife, Ana, was 44 when she died in April 2020. The couple have two children, Cara, 16, and Aidan, 11.
Ian lost his teenage sweetheart, Catriona, in November last year. They also have two young children, Max, 5, and Rosie, 2.
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David said: “Our shared experience meant we spent more time together, we were playing golf together and we decided now was the right time to do this for people who may find themselves in this situation, and in memory of Ana and Cat.
“We’re both young widowers with young children.
“That’s not to say we are any more special than anyone else who loses someone to cancer, but there is something unique in our situation and having lost our life partners at such a young age.
“We want to try to use that shared experience to try to help others, and to raise money for the amazing work of Maggie’s which deserves so much support.”
Ana and David met in their early 20s while David was working in Thailand teaching English.
“We were married in 2003 and our family was completed by our two amazing children, Cara and Aidan, to whom Ana was absolutely devoted,” David said.
“Ana became ill during the April-June period of 2019 and following a number of tests they identified she had a secondary tumour.
“She had treatment during the second half of 2019 with the intention of trying to manage it as much as possible, but Ana didn’t really improve or make progress.”
She spent increasing time in hospital and died in Roxburghe House on April 16.
“Ana spent a week at Roxburghe and all of the care and services she received were first class, and myself and the kids were really well supported” said David.
He added: “Ana worked at Braehill Care Home in Carnoustie and they have been fantastic.
“They planted a tree in the grounds recently, and our daughter now works there, which means a lot to us.
“Ana was just 44. She lived with cancer as she had lived all her life, with great dignity, good humour, and kindness towards others.
“Our children are an absolute credit to her and Ana’s love and kindness are with us every single day,” said David.
Catriona and Iain got together as teenagers in 2003 and married a decade later.
“Cat was beautiful on the inside and out – a wonderful mother and wife,” said Iain, Club Business Manager with Scottish Golf.
“She loved Max and Rosie beyond words.
“She was a proud and committed NHS Community staff nurse working out of Abbey health centre in Arbroath and anyone who knew Catriona will tell you how much of a good person she was.”
Colleagues formed a guard of honour for Catriona on the day of her funeral.
Her cancer diagnosis came in November 2019 after detecting a lump in her breast at the age of 34.
After starting chemotherapy in early 2020, Cat bravely underwent a mastectomy in mid-2020 hoping for long-term management of the disease.
“She was unbelievably stoic, never asked ‘why me?’ or worried about the effects of the drugs or losing her hair,” said Iain.
“She just wanted to be around our kids as long as possible.”
“Unfortunately, not long after this the cancer spread and couldn’t be controlled, which eventually led to Catriona’s death on November 29.
“She was 35. We only knew two days before that she was going to die, but she was able to be with the kids.”
“Words cannot explain how much the kids and I miss her,” said Iain.
On the summer solstice of June 21, they will play four rounds of golf together at Carnoustie.
Teeing off at Panmure at 4.30am, Iain and David will then play the famous Championship course with Carnoustie head professional Keir McNicoll, followed by the Buddon and Burnside courses.
“My son, Aidan, is going to play with us on the Buddon along with other family and we’ll then be joined by two good friends on the Burnside,” said David.
The pair hope to complete the 72-hole challenge during the early evening of the longest day.
Iain said: “Carnoustie Golf Links and Panmure have been so supportive of this idea and we’re really grateful to them for that.”
Through his role in the HR department at NHS Tayside, David was familiar with the Maggie’s building in the grounds of Ninewells Hospital.
“I passed by it regularly during lunchtime walks, but had never stepped foot inside,” he said.
“When Ana’s cancer was diagnosed I shared the news with a colleague who said I should go there, so I did.
“I couldn’t speak when I went inside – you are away from the atmosphere of the hospital and it is just such a caring and special place.
“A few days later Ana and I went to the centre together and then the children started to come along with us.
“Ana and Cara went together for beauty treatment days and Ana’s wig fitting.
“Maggie’s offers so much and tailor things to the individual and their families.
“Above all, the staff and volunteers there offer genuine kindness and we have been so grateful for their support.”
Iain said: “I’ve have had so much support from family, friends and everyone through this awful journey.
“Maggie’s rely on fundraising to deliver this free and universal support.
“We felt we now wanted to do our part to ‘pay it forward’ so that future people in the same unfortunate position that we were and are in can also access this vital support free of charge.”