Proud natalie pays tribute to her inspirational dad as thousands of scots get pretty muddy renfrewshire news

But Natalie, a former media student at the City of Glasgow College, will forever be thankful to her mum Lorna Calderwood who was a near perfect match and donated the stem cells which have given her a second shot at life. Now cancer free, Natalie was determined to cheer on thousands of Scots taking on obstacles including an inflatable mud slide, space hoppers and a scramble net to help beat cancer sooner.

“Today would have been my dad’s birthday which makes being here today extra special. It broke my heart when I lost dad to cancer and I was frightened when just 16 months later I found myself facing my own battle with the disease. What if cancer made me ugly? Would my boyfriend still want me if I went bald? Every night I’d lie awake worrying about so many unanswered questions.

I was 18 and as I lost my hair day by day my confidence fell along with it. I plucked up the courage to shave my hair off instead of let chemotherapy take it and I soon learnt that hair is just an accessory. The people I love stood by me even in the darkest of days helping turn negatives in to positives. Cancer is a game changer which made me grow up very quickly. There are so many things I want to do to make up for lost time.”

Natalie knows exactly why raising funds for research to give other families more tomorrows is vital. Born with a rare genetic immunodeficiency disorder, Natalie grew up with a higher chance of catching infections than other children and needed regular hospital visits. Her dad, Kevin Smith suffered from the same immunodeficiency disorder. Natalie who is a Celtic season ticket holder had also inherited a love for the football club from her dad so walking in to Celtic Park without him for the first time was hard. Natalie got through the first painful months after her dad died thanks to rock solid support from her dad’s partner, Hailey (cor) Smith.

Natalie faced seven rounds of chemotherapy which left her feeling sick. But as word that she was ill got out a message on social media from Hoops defender Kieran Tierney lifted her spirits. Kieran wrote: “Hi Natalie, gutted to hear about your news. I’m just giving you a message to tell you to keep strong and always be yourself and whatever you do, always have a smile on your face. There’s a lot of people supporting you. Keep strong and keep watching Hannah Montana.”

Natalie lost her long brown hair during treatment in the Schiehallion ward at Queen Elizabeth University hospital in Glasgow. She had a collection of 12 wigs which she chose from each day but at other times wore no wig at all. Doctors explained that Natalie’s best chance of a cure was a stem cell transplant and it was a huge relief when tests showed Natalie’s mum, Lorna Calderwood,46, was a tissue match.

Natalie was transferred to the Freeman hospital in Newcastle in February this year where she had conditioning chemotherapy to kill off her bone marrow. This was in preparation for receiving her mum’s healthy cells which would reboot Natalie’s immune system and hopefully stop cancer cells from growing. The transplant went ahead on February 2 2018 at noon.

“They were in a bag which was set up as a drip going directly in to my arm. They looked like the colour of tea but I knew these cells had the power to save my life. Mum had come down from Scotland to Newcastle for her healthy stem cells to be harvested and I remember her telling me she wasn’t going to moan as I had to live with pain like this all the time.

It was a big day on 2nd April this year as Natalie was discharged from hospital. But after just two days sleeping in her own bed in Ayrshire, Natalie got unwell again and had to be taken by ambulance to the Beatson Cancer Hospital in Glasgow where she remained in hospital for the next five weeks. In June, Natalie was recovered enough to go to the Parklife music festival in Manchester to celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday but she then got pneumonia and endured a further 10 days in hospital. Now Natalie is recovered and hopes that marked her last stay in hospital for a long time. She’s back at work at Seamills Hydro in West Kilbride, plans a fundraising skydive in October to help people with cancer and would love to train to be a nurse. Doctors have told her it’s likely to take at least a year before her immune system to develop completely but the cancer is gone.

Natalie was at the heart of Pretty Muddy Glasgow which started on Sunday with 492 youngsters taking part in Pretty Muddy Kids, a 4K mud splattered obstacle course designed for boys and girls under 12. More than 50 youngsters from the RAF air cadets from across the west coast volunteered as stewards at the event, keeping the mud topped up and lining the route to cheer participants on.

One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives, but the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Survival has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress. Last year Cancer Research UK spent around £38 million in Scotland on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research. Glasgow is home to a thriving community of world-class scientists and doctors, who are working to reduce the impact of this disease around the world. An exciting programme of work has been established at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute to look for ways to tailor treatment for pancreatic cancer. Scientists are also exploring how cancer cells grow, survive and spread.

“Listening to Natalie’s story brought home to everyone why raising money for cancer research is so important. The atmosphere on the obstacle course was full of fun and camaraderie with an extra helping of mud, sweat and cheers. It was also emotional with participants wearing signs on their backs declaring their reasons for taking part. Many will be remembering loved ones lost to cancer or celebrating the lives of people dear to them who have survived.