WHEN Gordon Robertson lost his wife of just 19 days to breast cancer he was left utterly devastated.

But a chance encounter on a holiday with friends led him to a second chance at happiness with Linda - and now the couple are about to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary having both also been diagnosed with cancer.

In a cruel blow, Linda was also diagnosed with breast cancer... just five years after Gordon had been treated for bowel cancer.

Gordon said: “When Linda went to the GP because of a lump in her breast, I wasn’t worried because it never crossed my mind that cancer could hit us for a third time.

“So when the tests showed it was cancer, I felt absolute disbelief. It was a massive shock.”

Gordon lost his first wife Val to the same disease in 1997 when she was aged just 33.

The couple, who met at work at Glasgow Libraries, had been engaged for some time and they married at home when Val’s health deteriorated – just 19 days before she died.

Glasgow Times:

Gordon, 56, said: “Val was a library assistant and I was working with Glasgow Libraries doing odd jobs when we met.

"We hit it off straight away and we were together for four years.

“When Val discovered a lump in her breast, she was only 31. We went for tests immediately and we thought we’d caught it early enough.

"But after treatment the cancer came back and had spread to her liver. It was devastating.”

Fifteen months later, a friend persuaded Gordon to go on a holiday to Tenerife with the hope that a change of scene might help lift his grief.

It was there Gordon met Linda, in a nightclub where neither of them were enjoying the music.

Glasgow Times:

Linda remarked to Morissey fan Gordon that it would have been better if the DJ had been playing The Smiths... and the pair bonded.

They left the nightclub and walked the streets talking about their lives and singing Smiths songs.

Gordon opened his heart to Linda about his heartbreak over Val.

Linda decided Gordon was not ready for another relationship and so the pair parted ways.

But on return to Glasgow, Gordon got back in touch with Linda and persuaded her to go on a date with him.

Six weeks later, they moved in together and were married in October 2000 after gaining the blessing of Val's sisters.

Glasgow Times:

Linda recalls: “Gordon was going through such a tough time, I didn’t think he was ready for another relationship.

"But when we got to Glasgow he got back in touch and took me for dinner and after that we pretty much became inseparable.

"It wasn’t long before I met Val’s sisters and they gave us their blessing, which meant so much and really helped Gordon to find happiness again.”

On October 19, 2000, Gordon and Linda were married at the Park Circus building in Glasgow in front of 60 friends and relatives.

Glasgow Times:

Ten years later, the couple had to face a second significant hurdle, when Gordon was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Gordon said: “Being told you have cancer immediately changes your life.

"And after what had happened to Val, of course I worried about the consequences.

"But I also really believed I was going to beat it.

"And having Linda by my side was a huge support.”

Gordon’s bowel cancer was caught early and this year he’s celebrating ten years of being free of the disease.

But another bombshell hit the couple in August 2015 when Linda discovered a breast lump.

The 48-year-old said: “I really didn’t think it was anything to worry about and so I didn’t even take Gordon with me when I went for the test results.

"So when the diagnosis came, it was a real bolt from the blue. I couldn’t believe it.

"How could cancer hit us for a third time – first Val, then Gordon and now me.”

Linda’s treatment included surgery, radiotherapy and Herceptin injections.

She continues to take Tamoxifen, a hormone therapy which lowers the risk of early breast cancer recurring after surgery.

To make sure her body was lined up in exactly the same position to receive all her radiotherapy treatments, radiographers made pin-point sized tattoo marks on her skin.

In a bid to turn these lasting marks into something positive Linda turned the marks into a bumble bee tattoo, alongside the words Bee Positive.

Glasgow Times:

Gordon has a matching tattoo on his arm.

Linda said: “While Gordon is such a positive person, I can sometimes be ‘glass half empty’.

"I sometimes dwell on the worst-case scenario and worry that the cancer will return.

"The tattoo is to remind me that I’m still here, Gordon is by my side, and we have lots to look forward to in life.”

Since their marriage, Gordon and Linda have indulged in a love of travel, particularly to Spain.

It was their dream to buy a camper van when they retired but, with the pandemic halting travel plans, and in celebration of their 20th wedding anniversary, the pair decided to make the investment this summer.

Glasgow Times:

Since buying the van, they’ve travelled all over Scotland and enjoyed a summer holiday to Wales.

They are also planning a more local camping trip in the van to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Linda said: “We’re really doing what we can to live our best life. You’d think with Gordon going through one tragedy, that would be his fair share.

"But that’s not how it works. We’ve been through so much together but we’re stronger and closer for it.

"When we decided to buy the campervan – which has been our dream for so long – we just thought ‘life’s too short to wait’.

"We love being out and about in it and preparing for each of our camping trips really makes my heart sing.”

The couple, from Paisley, are now supporting Cancer Research UK's Stand Up To Cancer campaign by holding a special fundraising brunch in the camper van.

They are calling on people across the country to sign up for a free fundraising kit with everything needed to turn their home into an exclusive brunch spot.

Supported by Channel 4 show Sunday Brunch, an array of celebrity chefs - including co-host Simon Rimmer - have donated recipes.

Linda Summerhayes, Cancer Research UK spokeswoman in Scotland, said: “We’re grateful to the Robertsons for helping us to continue our mission.

"Cancer doesn’t stop in the face of a pandemic. It can affect anyone’s life, at any time so we only have one option: accelerate life-saving research.

"The donations your family or housemates make in support of your efforts really could save lives.”

For added inspiration, during October four special episodes of Sunday Brunch will be shown on Channel 4 showcasing some of the Stand Up To Cancer recipes.

Linda added: “I know that I have survived cancer because I received treatments that perhaps weren’t around when Val was diagnosed with cancer.

Glasgow Times:

"Cancer affects every family and so it’s so important that scientists have the funding to find the causes and new cures.

"Supporting cancer research is something positive we can all do to make sure more people survive.

"With charities having been hit so hard by the coronavirus outbreak, it feels more important than ever for everyone to do what they can.”

Find a free fundraising kit at www.su2c.org.uk/brunch