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'Seize the day' – Highland lecturer with rare lung cancer set to push her boundaries at catwalk event


By Federica Stefani

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by Federica Stefani and Annabelle Gauntlett

Kirsteen with her daughter Fran.
Kirsteen with her daughter Fran.

A lecturer who was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer said she will be "pushing her boundaries" by taking part to an inspirational catwalk event.

Kirsteen Peters (54) will be one of the models taking part to Catwalk for a Cause at the Drumossie Hotel this weekend. The night is a platform for people with cancer or other life-limiting conditions to share their stories, as well as raising funds for the Highland Hospice.

Kirsteen, who is taking part to challenge herself and to raise awareness on support organisations, said that the news that she had ALK-positive cancer came as a shock to her.

"I was not your 'typical person' that would get lung cancer, I have been a non-smoker – but I had been unwell for six months and I just ignored the symptoms. I was quite naive in that."

Kirsteen with friends Linda Morrison and Gail Nixon.
Kirsteen with friends Linda Morrison and Gail Nixon.

She was suffering from a chronic cough which eventually was preventing her from even holding a full conversation.

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"At the age of 54 I never thought that I would be a catwalk model. Having incurable cancer gives you a whole new outlook and life and you think more about achieving the why nots, so I thought why not give this a go – and wow I was selected as one of the models!"

"I also had a constant pain on one side," she explained, "and it turned out I had broken ribs from the cough!

"ALK-positive lung cancer comes from a genetic mutation, something that goes wrong in your system.

"Currently there is treatment but no cure – as yet. The medication that I am on now didn't exist 10 years ago. So, the research that goes into is phenomenal, and that is key to hopefully eradicate all cancers for everyone."

However, Kirsteen praised the doctor who immediately sent her to A&E – where they discovered I had a tumour "the size of an orange" in her right lung.

"I have been very lucky of being diagnosed quickly, to access the right treatment.

"I'd like to think I am positive person – and with particular things as cancer a positively attitude I think definitely helps.

She said that life expectancy after diagnosis of this type of cancer is around seven years.

"But there are a lot of positive stories out there of people that have gone on to live ten years or longer.

With her friend Lorna Nelson.
With her friend Lorna Nelson.

The hardest thing for her was to tell her daughter Fran (16), from whom she had kept her condition secret for two years.

"I waited until she was a little older. The greatest relief for me was knowing that I had not passed this onto her.

"It makes me sad that I will probably not see her grow older and marry. I would have loved being a granny. But I try not to think about that, and focus on the positives and what I can do here and now. "

Three years after her diagnosis, Kirsteen, who is still working full-time, is pushing herself and doing things she has not done before.

That's when she decided to become one of the models for Catwalk for a Cause.

Kirsteen Peters is preparing to hit the catwalk this weekend.
Kirsteen Peters is preparing to hit the catwalk this weekend.

She said: "I wanted to take part to raise awareness on cancer support opportunities – I can't stress enough how important are these organisations, both those that I have been supported by and the one that I might need towards the end of my days, like the Highland Hospice.

"At the age of 54 I never thought that I would be a catwalk model. Having incurable cancer gives you a whole new outlook and life and you think more about achieving the why nots, so I thought why not give this a go – and wow I was selected as one of the models!"

She said that despite all the challenges, she had the best supporters among family and friends.

"My friends said they'll be giving me a big cheer when I walk on – it's definitely out of my comfort zone, but at least I am giving it a try!"

Catwalk for a Cause is set to return to the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness on Saturday, February 10. Tickets cost £60 per person or £720 for a table of 12.


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