A COURAGEOUS young woman who beat cancer as a student after losing her dad to the disease launched Scotland’s biggest Race for Life at Glasgow Green.

Sara Wilson, from Dennistoun, was chosen as VIP to kick off Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life Glasgow yesterday, marking the event's 25th birthday.

The 25-year-old sounded the bell to send around 6,500 participants on the 5K and 10K courses around the city and was cheered on by event host, radio DJ Des Clarke.

Her dad Derek Wilson, who was a keen runner, was just 47 when he died from skin cancer on Boxing Day 2008.

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Sara, who was studying for her school exams at the time, was devastated, but went on to win a place at university.

However, Sara was dealt a double blow when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma- a cancer of the white blood cells- just before her 21st birthday.

She said: “Cancer scares me as it has taken away so much from my family.

“It broke my heart when my dad died. Dad knew he was going to die and worried about telling me when I was studying for my exams. But losing dad spurred me on.

"I was determined to pass my exams, to go on and achieve everything I could in life that would have made dad proud. That’s why it felt unfair so soon afterwards when I found myself listening to a doctor telling me that I had cancer.”

Sara was in shock after her diagnosis and endured a gruelling 12 cycles of chemotherapy over six months, forcing her to delay her studies.

But, four years on, Sara is now in the clear and took part in the race with her boyfriend, Ross Alexander.

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“Cancer changed me," she said.

"I’m definitely stronger. I’m more likely to take chances and grab opportunities now.

"I remember one of the cancer nurses saying, ‘remember, you’re only in your twenties. It’s so important to still live your life.’

"I hope dad would still be proud of me and by doing this I’ll help others who are going through cancer right now.”

Glen Griffiths, 13, of Clarkston, was the first of the6,500 participants home, completing the 5K in 19 minutes 57 seconds.

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An incredible £20 million has been raised in Glasgow to fund gentler and more effective treatments for cancer since Scotland’s first Race for Life event was held in the city in spring 1995.

Money raised helps scientists find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease.