Cumnock’s MSP has described the pain of losing her mum to lung cancer in a bid to encourage others to get checked out if something isn’t quite right.

Elena Whitham was one of several Holyrood politicians who shared their own experiences to mark World Cancer Day, an annual effort to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.

Whitham’s mum died aged 58 in 2014 after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

The MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley said her mum’s sudden death had left her feeling she was robbed of spending more time with her ­– and had made it difficult for her to speak about what happened until now.

She said that she “found it difficult to talk about the illness and felt as if she had been robbed of more time with her mum.

Elena Whitham with her mum, who died in 2014Elena Whitham with her mum

Elena Whitham now believes it’s time for her to talk about and ensure that other people are getting the help and support they need to deal with it.

Elena Whitham said: “It was a very sudden and late diagnosis.

“She’d been feeling unwell and they thought it was maybe issues with her gall bladder, but tests showed it was a secondary tumour in her liver and the primary cancer was in her lung at stage four.

“There was no good prognosis at that point.

“Sadly, for a lot people, some cancers’ symptoms cannot be typical and they can come on late.

“World Cancer Day almost helps to refocus people on the importance of getting checked out.

“Of course, the earlier you get it checked the better prospects you have.

“Nobody knows your body better than yourself, so if something doesn’t feel right then keep pushing until you get the support.”

Ayrshire is one of three locations in Scotland where early cancer diagnosis centres have been up and running since May 2021 on a trial basis, aiming to speed up diagnosis and to get people whose symptoms may not be obvious the treatment they need.

She added: “We’re quite lucky that we’ve got this centre so GPs can refer folk here when it’s maybe not typical symptoms.

“I think something like this really could’ve helped my mum because she didn’t have typical symptoms.

“I think we have to look at some things in a more optimistic way.”