Heartbreak as Carluke’s Joan loses cancer battle

Joan and Kenny Purdie
Joan and Kenny Purdie

One of Carluke’s best-loved citizens was being laid to rest as the Gazette went to press this week.

However, what is certain to be the packed funeral of Joan Purdie at the town’s St Andrews Church today (Wednesday) at 12.30pm will not mark the end of the inspiration she gave hundreds of others during a two year battle against a rare form of cancer.

It was a battle she did not fight alone - far from it.

Not only her family, headed by local stockcar ace Kenny Purdie, but hundreds of friends and even total strangers from the Carluke area rallied to her support when it was learned that a new, experimental but expensive form of treatment might give her a chance of survival from the rare form of the disease that had defied all conventional forms of cancer treatment for two years.

When it seemed that all hope had gone, last year her family found out about the ground-breaking treatment that could have boosted her survival chances from a tiny four per cent to over forty per cent.

So new was the treatment, it had yet to be approved for NHS funding.

This resulted in a fund-raising campaign to pay for that new treatment which raised an amazing £62,000 at its first event alone, a barn dance and raffle held at the farm of family friend George Babes.

More fundraisers were planned, both locally and amongst the stock car community nationwide, to raise the £300,000 total needed but, sadly, last Wednesday night, at 11.30pm, Joan died, typically having left behind a detailed list of arrangements for her own funeral.

She was only 53 years old.

A spokesman for the family, her father-in-law and Photoflash Coaches proprietor Jim Purdie said: “Since she went, we’ve been finding her notes all over the place about the funeral. That was Joan; even when she knew the end was coming, she was thinking about saving others worrying about the arrangements.

“The family wants everyone who supported the appeal to know just what a boost to her that support was; she was absolutely gobsmacked that so many people cared about her. It really did make a difference to her.

“To the end, to look at her, you wouldn’t have thought anything was wrong with her; she still had all her hair, hadn’t lost weight and her skin was clear as ever. She kept fighting to the last day.

“The family also wants it to be known that Joan’s passing isn’t the end of her story; it was the end of a chapter in it.”

He said that the family had, understandably, not had time yet to plan in detail what to do with the money left over from the appeal but would eventually “put it to a use that Joan would have approved of.”

As Jim said, in body, Joan Purdie might have died last Wednesday but her fighting spirit lives on.