As you read this column this morning I will be linked by technology to a great pal of mine as he pounds the streets of Berlin raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Laura will be beside me and we’ll feel like all those families who watched and cheered from afar as their relative or friend competed in the Olympics in Japan.

The app we have installed is fitted with a tracker number that will follow Stuart Wilson round the Berlin Marathon route.





We will send him occasional messages of encouragement and, if he has the energy, he will maybe reply.

I introduced him to running a decade ago and back then we raised a pile of cash to help build the new Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park. Today we are raising almost £4,000 for Macmillan with sponsorship coming from his friends and mine.

I’m fitted with oxygen tubes and consigned to a wheelchair so my days of running are clearly behind me, but today I am virtually taking part through Stuart as my surrogate.

Why Berlin? Well, it’s the flattest course in Europe and Stuart is no Mo Farah – he needs all the help he can get!

Charities have had a really challenging time since Covid struck. So many events were cancelled and as funds dried up the demands on charities grew.

It is heartening to see mass support for fundraising initiatives such as the recent Kiltwalk in Scotland and also this newspaper’s own commitment to distributing significant charitable sums to the most deserving local causes voted for by its readers.

In my case, as I battle against terminal lung and brain cancer, I concentrate on supporting three cancer charities: Macmillan Cancer Support, Ayrshire Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK.

Thousands of Scots – and me – are alive right now due to advances in treatments and early diagnosis. Survival rates in all cancers are improving thanks to successful cancer trials around the world.

Researching this throws up something very interesting – treatments don’t make a massive difference to standard survival rates if the cancer is not detected until it is a large or mature tumour. But if detected early and new treatments applied to small tumours then results are hugely encouraging.

New breakthroughs such as immunotherapy and combination chemotherapy treatments, along with early diagnosis techniques, are the keys to beating this horrible disease.

That’s why we all need to learn more about checking ourselves and identifying the early signs – and why the NHS needs to step up with fast early cancer diagnosis and treatment as a top priority.

Ally McLaws is a freelance specialist in writing, business marketing and reputation management. See the full range of services and back issues at: