12 January 2023

Lorna’s Story – Supporting Families Impacted By Cancer

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Lorna Forsyth and her daughters visiting Santa in Lapland

Fighting Against Cancer Edinburgh (FACE) is one of our cancer funds based at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre of the Western General Hospital. It is run by volunteers who have been impacted by cancer directly or indirectly, and provides the “little things” that make a difference to patients and families who have been affected by cancer.

Every year the FACE team takes children who have been impacted by cancer to Lapland, giving them a magical day where they meet the ‘real’ Santa. These once in a life time trips help reduce isolation for families, encourage social interaction and peer to peer support where they meet others experiencing something similar, especially at Christmas, which can be a difficult time.

Lorna Fosyth, who lost her husband to bowel cancer in November 2021, travelled to Lapland with her daughters Emma and Ivy in December 2022. Here she shares her reflections of the trip.

My daughters and I were so lucky to be invited to a wonderful trip to Lapland by FACE. We very sadly lost my husband John to bowel cancer in November 2021, and this was very much something to look forward to! I kept it a surprise for the girls, as they’d never have gone to bed if they knew they were meeting Santa the next day!

“I woke the girls (Emma aged 5 and a half, and Ivy aged 3) at 4am, and gently roused them, whispering excitedly that we had to get up and go as we were going to Santa’s homeland to meet the man himself! The kids quickly got dressed in their cosy clothes, and Grumpa came to take us to the airport.

“We walked into departures and saw a big group of FACE volunteers and other families, walked over, and were instantly made to feel welcome. We put on our name badges and the girls received the first of many presents – a hat, golden ticket to see Santa and some candy canes. Another surprise was waiting when we got the gate, a visit from Santa and another present – a selection box each! Two very happy and excited girls! We also met two lovely ladies, June and Fiona, who helped us out all day. Thank you!

“Emma and Ivy had never been on a plane before and I was a bit worried that they’d be frightened, but they absolutely loved it. We had a tasty breakfast, got more sweeties, and sang lots of Christmas songs. Two and half hours later and we were within the arctic circle and heading to Santa’s village.

“At Enontekio airport we were given thermal snow suits, boots, balaclavas and were nice and toasty for our snow mobile led wooden sled ride to the village. We had wonderful views of the trees and snow, absolutely beautiful scenery. We got to the village and went to the café for hot chocolate and pancakes to warm up, Ivy ate about a pint of whipped cream!

“Next up was the reindeer sled ride. Emma and Ivy loved seeing Santa’s reindeer up close, and so did I. We then had a look around the Ice Palace and the amazing ice carvings inside and warmed up again with some hot berry juice which the girls thoroughly enjoyed. It was getting quite chilly (minus 13!) in the queue for the husky sled rides, but Santa’s elves were fantastic at keeping the kids entertained with snow angels, snowball fights and lots of games. The kids loved it. The husky sled ride was a huge hit, especially with Emma, who was giggling delightedly the whole way around!

“We then popped back to the café for lunch (more pancakes and cream for Ivy, pasta for Emma and I) and awaited our call to go and meet Santa himself! Our turn came and we were taken by snow mobile pulled sled across the frozen lake to Santa’s cabin in the woods. We were greeted by Santa and his elves and led inside. The cabin was cosy and beautifully decorated. Santa was incredible, taking time to speak to all of the children and answering any questions they had. Emma and Ivy were awestruck and were chatting away to Santa (Emma even gently pulled his beard to make sure he was the real deal, which he most certainly was!) They each got a lovely present from Santa, a soft toy reindeer to remember their time in Lapland.

“It was then time to go back to the café and wait for our coach to take us back to the airport. The elves came to see us off, and we got on our flight home. Ivy was asleep before take-off and slept almost the whole way home! The girls received yet another present – a warm, cosy scarf from FACE. Back in Edinburgh, we sailed through arrivals and there was yet another surprise awaiting us – another yummy selection box each! We felt well and truly spoiled. Grumpa was there to take us home, and the girls were so excited to tell him all about our once in a lifetime adventure.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to FACE for the opportunity. We all had the most magical time in Lapland and have been talking about it non-stop. We have lots of wonderful memories and photographs to remember our amazing adventure. Special thanks to John for organising the trip, you do a truly amazing job in creating these fantastic memories for children who have been through such sorrow. Another HUGE thanks to June and Fiona who made the whole experience so much smoother and easier for me by looking after the three of us, thank you!”

A huge well done and thanks to John Mcaulay and all the FACE volunteers who make this day happen and make it so special for families and for sharing this story with us.

FACE is an NHS Lothian Charity fund which supports cancer patients, visitors and staff. Find out more: https://www.face.scot/

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