a nightmare illness...but the love of my girls means I'll never give in.
Chilly sunshine and the first, brave daffodils herald the start of spring on a windy Scottish hill.
But for one young mother, they also symbolise the renewal of hope - and her stubborn refusal to give in to a terrible illness.
Diane Crowder, quite simply, intends to keep looking forward, not back.
And she's looking forward to spending Mother's Day, next Sunday, the way she has spent the last five - being fiercely optimistic for the sake of her daughters Julieann, 17, and Alicia, 11.
Diane, 37, who is divorced, is suffering from a very rare form of cancer.
She's the youngest
She fell ill in October 1992 and, after years of treatment, doctors now say there is little more they can do for her.
She is resolutely
cheerful and excited about a trip to
"I've always believed in miracles," she says with a big smile, showing off the travel brochure. "And I may not be really religious or a Catholic, but I've always believed in God.
"It's been a long struggle and a long fight.
"I'm very positive but there are bad days when I feel really down.
"You feel you are in a black tunnel and you are stuck and you can't get out. All you want to do is crawl along and reach the light.
"But those days are not as bad as they used to be.
"The girls and my family keep me going."
As Diane talks, her daughter Julieann, who works as a waitress at Gleneagles, sits in silent support. Alicia is at the primary school down the road.
Diane says: "They keep me going, they're so cheery and supportive.
"I wonder what's going on in their wee minds.
"They ask me, I tell them everything. I wouldn't keep anything from them.
"Alicia just says I'm not going to die. Those are her words."
And Diane proudly
shows off a poem that hangs on the wall by her chair in her
When Diane went down with a sore stomach all those years ago, she never dreamed that it would come to this.
"I had an operation
two days before my 32nd birthday," she remembers. "I was the only one in
"It's very very uncomfortable and very rare."
Diane's two sisters, who live and work in London, took her down to be treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, where they were very familiar with the disease she calls her "nightmare."
"Before you go to bed every night you pray that it will go away, and every morning you wake up and realise it hasn't, your heart sinks, and you think: `how am I going to get through this day?'
"But you do, just plodding along."
Through the long and gruelling years she has plodded along through radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Frequently she lost both her hair and her temper.
"I'm a very strong-willed person. I get in some moods and my family have put up with some stick from me.
"My poor father
came all the way down to
She laughs and adds: "But folk can take me the way they find me."
Lacking neither courage nor a sense of humour, Diane asked her consultant whether the disease was going to kill here
"She said, yes, it will one day, but they can't tell me when. She thinks I'm great and can't believe I'm still going. If I knew when I was going to die, I would only tell my family.
"They have the right to know, but nobody else.
"After all, nobody knows when they are going to die, do they? I'm very positive."
Part of being positive means she does not dwell on the thought of the girls growing up without her, of the grandchildren she may never hold.
"I just try not to think about that. I just hope that I'm here to see them.
"I don't like to think of my girls having kids without me. They need you here to guide them."
AND then Diane suddenly gives a gentle smile and confides: "I'm not afraid of death. There's life after death.
"My wee boy died
when he was a baby. He was called Michael. He was born in 1984 and lived for 10
days. I had him when we lived in
"I'll try to get through this year and put flowers on his wee grave."
She smiles a faraway smile, as if comforting herself: "I know I'll meet up with him one day."
And she adds: "The girls are very strong. They really surprise me at times.
"It makes me feel better inside.
"When the day comes, it makes me feel good to know they are so strong and they will be extra strong and look after each other.
"And I'll look down and keep an eye on them and they'll be saying: `I bet that was Mother up there stirring things up.'"
And her thin face, drawn with pain, breaks into that indomitable grin.
One things's for sure. Come Mother's Day, no-one will be have a braver mum than two proud girls called Julieann and Alicia.
This document provided by HighBeam Research at http://www.highbeam.com
breakthrough that tragic Diane prayed for
A sick mum's dream of a miracle cure could come true - thanks to some dedicated doctors and the Sunday Mail.
Last week, we told the heartbreak story of Scot Diane Crowder who had been told she has an incurable disease.
It was read in the
And now Diane will go there for a scan - and the chance of saving her life.
"My doctor is
referring me down there. And I'm going to
Lindsay, 29, from Lanark, works at the
It is the only
Doctors at many
other hospitals in
But Lindsay was determined to pass on the good news after reading about Diane.
She said: "I've
"I flicked through the Mail and Diane's story just leaped out at me.
"I work on the ward that treats this illness. Obviously, there are no guarantees.
"But I just felt Diane should get a chance to be helped.
"When someone's been given a death sentence, they deserve every chance.
"All the patients we have seen had been told that they were dying and there was nothing more that could be done for them.
"And all six we have treated are now fit and healthy."
One of the six is Pauline Littleson of Glasgow - who found out about the treatment through the CANADIAN Internet!
"I was dying," said
Pauline, who has just returned from her life-saving operation at
Husband Matthew said: "We had been told by everybody that the disease was so rare, there was no research and nothing they could do.
"I tried the
Internet sites in
"Then a friend who
"He had been successfully operating for 10 years and had treated more than 200 people."
Since Pauline's visit there, Matthew has launched a personal crusade to spread the word among the medical profession that there is a cure for the disease.
Due to his efforts,
a sufferer from the Isle of Lewis has now been referred to
Amazingly, it was
another Scots patient - Brian Black, from Anstruther,
Prof. Sugarbaker flew over to supervise Brian's 13-hour operation, during which he trained British surgeons Bill Heald and Brendan Moran.
Matthew Littleson is right behind them...
"It makes me blazing mad that not all doctors know there is a cure for this horrible illness," he said.
incredible to think Diane was treated at the
"It's just 50 miles