TWO mothers in the same street and with the same surname were diagnosed with breast cancer within a month of each other.
And Lauren and Marie Gray, who are both in their 30s and completely unrelated, recently finished chemotherapy just a month apart.
But, in a sign of the times, the women only found out about the remarkable coincidence through social media despite living about 50ft apart.
Mother-of-two Lauren, 36, was diagnosed with the disease in May last year after noticing a lump on her breast.
A month later, her neighbour in Morven Place, Dalgety Bay, mother-of-one Marie, 33, was given the same diagnosis.
Care worker Marie went on Facebook to look for support from someone going through a similar ordeal and stumbled across her neighbour who she had never spoken to.
Lauren – who has been married to husband Gavin for eight years – said: “It was just completely out of the blue. The message from Marie basically said ‘I’ve heard through the grapevine you have cancer and just thought I’d get in touch’.
“I couldn’t believe here was someone who was a similar age, who lived on the same street and had the same surname and we were going through such a similar cancer experience.
“We spoke to a Cancer Research UK worker who also said she’d never heard of anything like this before – she said it was ‘bizarre’.”
“We got chatting online and it turned out we lived right next to each other – she’s door 22 and I’m 25 – she’s right across the street but down a door.
“The moment that followed was a bit of a jump straight to the window to try and see each other kind of thing – but we ended up going out and meeting in the street and chatted for a while.
“We’ve continued to stay in touch and I’d say we’re on the path to being life-long friends – although now we’re back at work it’s a little harder as we’ve less free time.”
Lauren – who works as an administrator for environmental contractor Briggs Marine – finished her treatment just before Christmas after six months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy after surgery revealed she had seven lumps rather than one.
Marie just finished her radiotherapy at the end of January after also undergoing chemotherapy and surgery.
Lauren noted other similarities include their eldest kids both go to Inverkeithing High School and they both received the 1.20pm slot for their radiotherapy treatment.
She added: “She went for chemotherapy first but that switched for the radiotherapy when I went first – we were like each others guinea pigs and gave the other helpful information on what happened.
“I really admired the way that Marie coped with the treatment and was able to get a lot of reassurance from the fact she’s gone through chemotherapy already.
“I was also glad to be able to support her as she went through surgery as I’d been through that already.”
Marie – who lives with partner of 15 years Brian Riddick (33) and their 15-year-old daughter Jade – said: “I was really happy to find Lauren as I felt quite alone beforehand.
“The other folk I had met were all older so it was good to find someone almost the same age – and then to find out she’s on the same street was just amazing.
“I had dealt with the Macmillan cancer support group before I found Lauren but I took it upon myself to track someone down – then I heard about her through the grapevine.
“I discovered we had mutual friends and just sent her the message.
“Going through cancer treatment hasn’t been pleasant and I’ve been grateful to the support of my family and friends for supporting me.
“I’m looking forward to getting my life back, being able to get back to work and socialise with my friends – friends like Lauren.
“I would encourage other sufferers – especially younger folk – to get online, check the forums, check Facebook, and you never know you might find someone who can help you too.”
Marie and Lauren are now joining forces with Cancer Research UK to highlight the need for continual support.
Marie added: “I am so grateful for the treatment that saved my life.
“However the treatment I received would not have been possible without the charity’s life-saving work which in turn relies on everyone who raises money.
“I finished chemo on the day that Stand Up To Cancer was on the television – 19 October 2012 – and was really moved by what was going on to end suffering by cancer.
“Now I want to do everything I can to urge people to fight back against the devastating disease.”
There were also no concerns about radioactive particles on Dalgety Bay beach being the cause of the cancer in the two women.
Lauren added: “It was something I’ll admit I thought of but to be honest I don’t think it is the cause of it.
“I’ve only lived here for five years and I think there are other locals who’d be more susceptible to it IF it causes problems.
“Besides, I have a phobia of sand and never go on the beach – not only that I was told my cancer was estrogen based where my body produced too much of the hormone.”
Cancer Research UK said it was “wonderful” to hear of the support Lauren and Marie found in each other.
Scottish spokeswoman Linda Summerhayes said: “Certainly in my experience with Cancer Research UK I haven’t come across this kind of situation before.
“It’s wonderful they’ve got together in this way and manage to help each other.”
Ms Summerhayes was asked if two people finding each other through Facebook showed a new modern approach to cancer support.
She said: “Absolutely – there’s a wealth of support systems out there and we argue anyone who feels they need them should check them out.”
Linda was also asked if the two Grays will feature in a new national awareness campaign given their unique story.
She replied: “I can’t say for sure, but I know Lauren and Marie are keen on helping out any way they can.”