Meldrum’s woman’s moving account of cancer battle

Jennifer Leys who spoke at the Grampian 50+ Network conference.
Jennifer Leys who spoke at the Grampian 50+ Network conference.

An Oldmeldrum woman won the hearts and minds of fellow walkers when she spoke movingly at a conference about her successful battle with cancer, writes Jack Nixon.

Jennifer Leys, a member of Oldmeldrum Ramblers, addressed the 50 + Network gathering in Aberdeen on the subject of the benefits of walking.

I was shocked, angry and terrified, but thought I would squeeze in what I thought might be my last walk with the group

Jennifer Leys Cancer survivor

The network consists of groups in Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and Moray who enjoy the outdoors and, in particular, walking.

In an emotional, but occasionally humorous, short talk Mrs Leys described her feelings when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer three years after joining the group.

She said: “I was shocked, angry and terrified, but thought I would squeeze in what I thought might be my last walk with the group.”

Mrs Leys went on to describe the support she received from her fellow walkers and, in particular, one member who had been through the same ordeal 10 years earlier.

She explained: “The sense of relief was overwhelming, sending me off to my operation with positive thoughts and lots of goodwill messages from my walking friends.

“After nine months I felt well enough to re-join the group for a walk.

“The first walk at Forvie was a real struggle, and I had to choose between walking and talking, but that was two years ago, and since then I have been a regular on the Oldmeldrum walks.”

Keynote speaker at the two-day conference in Dyce was outdoors expert and broadcaster Cameron McNeish, who said he was “humbled” by Mrs Leys’ speech.

He added: “I am not a member of a walking group, but from what I have heard today, I might just be missing something.”