SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said she is “planning things that bring her joy” after being told she is free of breast cancer a year after a terrifying diagnosis.

The Equalities Minister discovered she had a tumour in March last year following her first over-50 mammogram, while she was battling to keep her seat in the Scottish Parliament.

But after 12 months of moving from one appointment to the next through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she has received the “all-clear” from doctors and feels as if she can now start doing things she was afraid to commit to during treatment.

“You start thinking about all the things you’ve been hoping and planning for but maybe not really committing to because you can’t,” said McKelvie.

“They always told me it was a pretty straightforward treatment plan. I knew what the steps would be so in that whole year you just go from one step to the next and that’s all you can see in front of you.

“But now my next appointment isn’t until next year, so I’ve said to my family don’t buy me things, buy me stuff that I can enjoy and experience.

“I’ve got lots of vouchers for a beauty place so I’m going to get my feet and face done and all that, in preparation for my son’s 30th birthday party. My partners’ daughter gets married in August as well and I want to look nice for that.

“It’s the simple things you maybe put on the back burner which become the important next steps. You start to plan things that are going to bring you joy and allow you to spend time with your family.

“When you’ve had that brush with facing your own mortality, time becomes much more precious.”

Finding out she had come through the other side of her treatment though was a scary experience.

Christina McKelvie is now free of breast cancer and is focusing on planning fun things to do with her family

McKelvie admitted she was extremely anxious in the run-up to her appointment and, even when the mammogram was over, she was still on edge for the rest of the day until the news finally came through in the evening.

She added: “You get your first big check-up with a mammogram a year after your surgery.

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“I hadn’t realised the stress I would feel in the run-up to that. I’m still getting some one-to-one support and I had a meeting with the counsellor just after I got the letter and we talked through strategies to get through the appointment and deal with the news so that was helpful.

“I was absolutely terrified. I didn’t sleep the night before and then when it was done I asked what happens next and they said the appointment was just my mammogram and so I didn’t know the result or when I was going to find out.

“I rang my breast cancer care nurse and it turns out she had told me the process but I had forgotten. She went round to see the surgeon who said I was all clear and they would see me next year.

“All the stress then just dissolved. I remember my partner just breathed a huge sigh of relief over the phone."

The minister eventually got her official letter through in the post on Tuesday this week, which she says she wants to frame and stick on a wall.

One of her hopes now is to continue raising awareness of breast cancer and making sure men and women do not ignore screening appointments.

McKelvie said: “My plea to people, with regards to any issue that has screening appointments attached to it, is if you’re appointment comes in just go. It’s five minutes of feeling a bit uncomfortable and that’s it and it can save your life. It did for me.”

In June, McKelvie will take part in the MoonWalk in Edinburgh which will start and finish at Holyrood Park, raising much-needed funds for services like the Maggie’s Centre at Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow.

Maggie’s – which supported McKelvie - helps people take back control when cancer turns their life upside down, with free professional support for anything from treatment side effects to money worries.

“When dealing with the challenges of my own diagnosis and aftermath of treatment the team at the Maggie's Centre have been an absolutely massive support to me,” said the MSP.

"The MoonWalk is a great opportunity to show your support and raise money for an important cause at the same time.”

To find out more about the MoonWalk on June 11 visit