A GOUROCK nurse who is battling cancer for the second time in quick succession has bravely vowed to beat the deadly disease.
Sandra McColl had a lumpectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy in 2008 when she was first diagnosed by doctors and she had returned to her work when a routine mammogram last year revealed she had cancer again.
The 54-year-old had a mastectomy last June and still faces a further five months of treatment at Inverclyde Royal Hospital - yet she is determined to return to work as a district nurse as early as next month.
Sandra said: "Because of the type of cancer I had the first time they said I wouldn't get the 'all-clear' but I was cancer free.
"I went for a routine mammogram and I had another cancer which was in the third stage, so the battle, round two, began." She added: "I am a very positive person and I am hoping to go back to work. You have to get up and get on with it.
"My treatment ends in November and, hopefully, that will be me." Despite her illness, Sandra is determined to be upbeat and has paid tribute to the tremendous support she has had from family and friends.
She told the Tele that her fellow district nurses Karen McEwen, Bernadette Scott, Karen McAlpine and Stella Rennie had been a tower of strength.
She said: "They have been there for me the whole time and they don't let me get down.
"When I am down they are there to pull me up.
"You couldn't get through this if you didn't have friends - they pull me out of bed when I don't want to get up." Prior to Sandra's illness she and her close group of pals were walking Greenock Cut once a week and Sandra had suggested they tackle the West Highland Way.
The group were all set to tackle the challenge until she fell ill.
But the others decided to go ahead with the seven-day trek and have raised �885 for the oncology department at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, plus a further �100 for Muirshiel Day Centre, Port Glasgow.
Sandra's pal Bernadette said: "We all said we would do it for Sandra." Although Sandra was not well enough for the walk in May, her husband Hugh and daughters Ashley and Samantha hatched a plan to ensure she didn't miss out altogether.
Hugh spun her a story about being invited to a colleague's birthday party to get her onto the Fort William train and Ashley and Samantha booked their mum into the hotel where the walkers were staying on their last night.
Sandra said: "When the train stopped in Helensburgh my husband jumped off and said 'there is no party' and told me to keep going to Fort William.
"The trolly attendant thought he had left me so I had to tell her the whole story." Sandra reached the hotel in Fort William and half-an-hour later was delighted when her pals walked in, having successfully completed their trek.
She said: "It was a really nice surprise." Now the group of pals are hoping to walk the Great Glen Walk from Fort William to Inverness once Sandra is well enough to join them.
They are also planning a visit to the Emmerdale Studios after meeting TV star Chris Chittell who plays Eric Pollard during their West Highland Way trek.
The walkers saw him several times on the route and he helped them with their luggage and bought them drinks before inviting them all to visit the studio when Sandra is well enough.