A north-east mum who faced the unthinkable when both daughters were diagnosed with leukaemia is to take on a mammoth Arctic trek to raise funds for charity.
Claire Bruce’s daughter, Lacey, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia when she was just seven months old in 2011.
Following five rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, the 10-year-old was given the all-clear and has now been in remission for eight-and-a-half years.
But the six-year-old is due to ring the bell, symbolising the end of her treatment, in June.
Mum Claire, from Fraserburgh, told of the “devastating” moment she found out Imogen had cancer too.
She said: “Imogen started becoming unwell. She had a constant cough that didn’t go away, persistent urine infections and fatigue, all of which I took her to see the GP about.
“Eventually, she couldn’t walk properly and was hunched over. I took her to A&E and they weren’t going to admit us, but I pushed.
“Imogen was eventually diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and started treatment straight away.
“It was a consultant in oncology who delivered the news, and when he opened the door my heart dropped because I knew what he was about to say, as he had looked after Lacey during her treatment.”
The 32-year-old added: “In my gut, I had a feeling it was the same thing, but I just didn’t think it could happen again.
“In my mind, I think I knew, but in my heart, I didn’t want to believe it. I was absolutely devastated.”
To mark the end of Imogen’s treatment, Claire signed up to take on an Arctic trek next year to raise funds for When You Wish Upon a Star – a charity which works to grant the wishes of children living with a life-threatening illness.
The challenge in Rovaniemi, Finland, will see Claire trek 30km each day for three days, camp outside in Arctic conditions in a two-man tent, and face temperatures as low as -40 degrees celsius.
The mum-of-two wanted to take on the challenge to give back to the charity, which funded a trip to Lapland for the family in 2019.
Claire said: “During the course of Imogen’s treatment, Lapland was probably the best day we ever had. It was really special to see all the other families with smiles on their faces.
“The girls were stunned, we had such a fantastic experience.
“It was a private chartered flight specifically for sick kids and they had medics, oncologists, nurses and paramedics on board.
“We didn’t have to worry because the charity had organised all that, and it was so nice to relax.”
So far, the fundraising page for Claire’s Arctic adventure has racked up £1,765 ahead of her trek in January 2022.
She added: “I’ve never, ever done anything like this before.
“I’ve got a lot of training ahead of me but I’m really looking forward to it.
“I’m making it my mission to raise £10,000 to pay as many seats as I can on the charity’s 2022 trip to Lapland with sick children and families.
“Each seat costs £450 and they allow four people per family, so the costs soon add up.
“£10,000 would pay for 22 seats aboard the flight and I really hope to make this possible.”
To donate to Claire’s fundraiser, go to