A Dundee mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer just months before her 40th birthday, said she felt “incredibly privileged” to open up Scotland’s largest Cancer Research UK shop.
Michelle Harrow 41, of Liff, vividly recalls the moment the doctors diagnosed her with cancer.
On February 4 2019, she said herself and her husband Ronnie Harrow, 49, had their life turned upside down with the diagnosis.
“The hardest part was telling my daughters”, Michelle said.
However, with the help of her husband, and two daughters, Samantha, 22, and Beth, 12, Michelle got through a surgery and then chemotherapy treatment.
After a gruelling 15 sessions of radiotherapy, Michelle managed to make it out for a celebratory lunch in July of that year to celebrate her 40th.
Opening the shop on Thursday, Michelle said: “It feels incredible, overwhelming but an absolute privilege to have the honour of cutting the ribbon to launch the Dundee superstore.
“I want to show that there is life after cancer.
“Hearing the word cancer was frightening at first. I was young and had no history of cancer in the family.
“My husband who was me when I was diagnosed was probably more shocked than me. But the medical staff at the hospital were great.
“They said that I had come in at the right time, early enough. Progress is being made on the treatment of cancer all the time.
“The hardest part was telling my daughters and there were some tough moments but we got through. Now supporting other people with cancer by funding vital research is close to my heart.”
Michelle, who is now in remission, raised more than £1,000 for Cancer Research last month by walking 10,000 steps every day.
She is currently in a clinical trial, which is supported by Cancer Research UK, which is looking at aspirin to see if can help stop cancer coming back after treatment.
Joined at the launch of the superstore by Dr Kasper Rasmussen, the 7,500 sq ft shop is more than five times the size of a normal Cancer Research UK shop. It is the fourth of its kind in Scotland.
Dr Kasper Rasmussen is working on life saving cancer research after Cancer Research UK awarded him £1.4 million. He hopes to understand why the body develops aggressive blood cancers like acute myeloid leukaemia.
Dr Rasmussen, 39, said: “By studying how life-threatening blood cancers such as leukaemia arise in the blood-forming stem cells in the body, we hope to improve our understanding of the biology of the earliest gene mutations that promote these diseases.
“I hope my team’s research will lead to new treatment strategies better directed against leukaemia to improve patient outcomes.”
The Dundee superstore, which opened in the former Brantano shoe shop, is selling everything from furniture to electrical items, clothing and soft furnishings, gifts and women’s, men’s and children’s wear – with profits going to fund research.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Michelle. We hope her inspiring story encourages people to support the charity so that we can continue to fund the very best scientists in Scotland and across the UK.
“Covid-19 has slowed us down, but we will never stop. Our research has played a role in developing eight of the world’s top 10 cancer drugs. We’re working hard to raise funds and find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.
“It has been a challenging time but our new superstore in Dundee is worth celebrating as it will fund world-class research to help more people survive cancer.”
The Dundee superstore will be open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am until 7pm, and Sundays 10am to 6pm.