THE SHOCK news she may lose her voice because of cancer was “brutal”, admits Monica McGhee.

The Motherwell woman is a successful opera singer, and her diagnosis at the age of 28 turned her whole world upside down.

“When I got cancer, I risked losing the one thing in my life I relied on more than anything else, my voice,” she explains. “Cancer threatened to take away forever so much of what I loved and lived for. Nothing could have prepared me for how brutal that would be.”

Monica, now 34, discovered a lump on her neck in 2017. Seven days after going to her doctor, she was having surgery to remove a tumour on her thyroid.

Glasgow Times: Moira after her surgeryMoira after her surgery (Image: Monica McGhee)

Surgeons explained the cancer they had discovered was close to her lower laryngeal nerve. After waking up from the operation, the first thing she asked was whether they had managed to preserve her voice.

Thankfully, the surgery was a success. Monica has an annual check up but has remained cancer free.

“I feel incredibly lucky to be through cancer, excited for the future and here to help others who may be facing cancer right now,” she says. “I’m really close to my family who, along with the amazing skills of the NHS, got me through.

“After a busy year touring, often overseas, it feels an honour to return to home ground and to do what I can to support life-saving research.”

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The inspirational soprano will take centre stage at Glasgow Cathedral on December 7, for the Glasgow Carol Concert in aid of Cancer Research UK, which returns to the city for the first time since the pandemic.

Glasgow Times: Monica McGhee, who will perform at Glasgow Cathedral on December 7Monica McGhee, who will perform at Glasgow Cathedral on December 7 (Image: Cancer Research UK)

The performance, sponsored by ScottishPower, will include Vissi D’Arte from Puccini’s Tosca, Ave Maria and O Holy Night.

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate Monica, who found international fame as part of the operatic group Amore, has performed at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, and with acclaimed companies Scottish Opera and Opera North.

Glasgow Times: Monica as Iolanta in a previous production for IF OperaMonica as Iolanta in a previous production for IF Opera (Image: Craig Fuller)

Around 34,600 people in Scotland are diagnosed with cancer every year but death rates from the disease have fallen by eight percent over the past decade, largely thanks to research.

Comedian and radio presenter Fred MacAulay will host this year’s Glasgow Cathedral Carol Concert.

Fred explains: “Cancer sadly touches so many people, but the good news is that survival rates are going up thanks to research.

“My father had prostate cancer. I have an older brother who currently has the disease and another close friend was diagnosed with bladder cancer this year. 

Glasgow Times: Monica McGheeMonica McGhee (Image: Cancer Research UK)

“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to host the Glasgow Carol Concert, to do what I can to make a difference.”

The concert also features performances by solo harpist Sophie Rocks and singer/songwriter Natalie James. It includes entertainment by the Kelvinside Academy Intermediate Choir, Glasgow Gaelic Primary school and The Rock Choir led by Jennifer Scouller.

Organised by a dedicated committee of volunteers, the Glasgow Christmas Carol Concert has raised more than £400,000 for Cancer Research UK since it first started in 1999.

The event takes place on Thursday, December 7, at 6.30pm. Tickets, which cost £40 for adults, £20 for children and include complimentary drinks, canapes and a programme, are available from the Cancer Research UK website.