After being shocked to see her mother shrink by four inches, a detective explained the reason for her shock.  

Vicci Huges, 38, from Bathgate, West Lothian, was always smaller than her mother Alison McDonald, 56. 

She noticed that her mother had become smaller while standing beside her in December 2020.

Alison, Grandmother of Four was using Tramadol for back pain that never got better and became increasingly tired. 

Tape measurements showed that Alison, a mother-of-four from Edinburgh had lost 5ft 6in and 5ft 2in. 

Alison McDonald (left) had always been taller than her daughter - so when she suddenly shrank below her height, the family knew something was wrong

Alison McDonald (left), who had always been taller that her daughter was, knew when Alison suddenly fell below her height.

The family hope Alison's treatment will be completed in November so she is well enough to enjoy Christmas

Alison will receive her treatment in November, so that she can enjoy Christmas.

Mum-of-two Vicci urged Alison to get checked out and her GP referred her to A&E.

Multiple unexplained fractures on Alison’s spine were discovered by the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary during an X-ray.

Alison received a back brace that was so painful she could not wear it and painkillers. She was then sent home.

Alison’s GP saw that Alison hadn’t received any follow-up and referred Alison back to the hospital. There, she was given an MRI scan which revealed holes in her bones. 

A biopsy of the bone marrow was used to diagnose myeloma, a blood cancer that can be managed but is not curable.

Vicci is a mum-of-2 and said, “She’d had a painful back for about a few months. It wasn’t getting better. She had to keep taking Tramadol.

Alison McDonald and her daughter Vicci Hughes who has shaved her head in solidarity with her mum

Alison McDonald, Vicci Hughes and Vicci McDonald who have shaved heads together in solidarity for their mother

Vicci Hughes before having her head shaved. She noticed her mother had shrunk from 5"5 to 5"2 in what seemed like a matter of weeks

Vicci Hughes, before she had her head shaved. Her mother’s size dropped from 5″5 to 5″, which she thought was a matter weeks.

The day that we realized, we were sitting in my mom’s kitchen, and I suddenly thought “something’s wrong.”

“She was very hunched. She’d never had a hunch before.”

“Mum, I’m sure you have definitely shrunk,” she said.

“So, we pulled out the tape measure to take her measurements.

She said, “I cannot say she lost all of her height in just a few weeks. Because it could have been gradual.”

“She began to realize that something was not right.”

Alison takes care of Ashley, her 24-year-old daughter with Down’s Syndrome.

Vicci explained that they believed she had told them something, and handed her a sheet with exercises.

“If she’d done these exercises, she might have caused some serious damage.”

Alison went back to Western General in April 2021 after being diagnosed with cancer.

Her daily doses of chemotherapy were started in May. She also began stem cell harvesting in November.

So that she will feel well enough to celebrate Christmas, her family is hopeful that her treatment in November will be finished.

Police officer Vicci was standing next to Alison in December last year, when she noticed the disparity in height

Alison noticed the height difference while standing with Vicci in December 2013.

Vicci explained that “the transplant has all kinds of other symptoms” and she will have to be bedridden for at least a few weeks.

“She could finish the treatment in November, and start her recovery before Christmas.”

She said, “She doesn’t feel crazily sick every day. There are days she feels better.”

“Her pain in her spine and bones has almost disappeared, which gives her more freedom.

“I feel her nerves can get fried sometimes thinking about the future.”

Myeloma treatment is individual. Therefore, some patients can stay in remission up to 10 years. Others can only remain in remission for six or more months.

Is multiple myeloma a real thing?

Multiple myeloma, also known as bone marrow cancer, is an aggressive form of cancer.

Plasma cells are an ordinary way for the body to fight infections, but in multiple myeloma patients the cells in the soft marrow quickly develop into tumors.

Because it weakens the bone, it can make it hard to create good blood cells or platelets.

Rare forms of blood cancer are not curable.

Nearly 30,000 African Americans have multiple myeloma, which is second in the United States. It is not surprising that black people are more susceptible to the disease than those of other races.

According to some medical professionals, occupational exposure may play a significant role in the development and progression of this deadly disease. The risk of getting blood cancer is higher for those who have jobs that involve exposure to oil, herbicides or heavy metals.

Over 45-year-olds are the most likely to be affected (96 percent). The percentage of people over 65 is 63 percent.

Multiplicative myeloma in men is much more common.

Four times as likely are those with a family history. Also, obese people have a higher chance.

A monoclonal gammopathy with undetermined significance (MGUS), has been also linked.

While MGUS – the development of abnormal monoclonal protein produced by white blood cells – can be considered unproblematic, some have linked it to multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma patients can live longer with strong cancer treatment options such as chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplants, and other drugs.

Anemia, kidney disease, high blood calcium levels, severe organ infections, fractures, or loss of mobility are all possible complications. 


“Because it is so different for everyone, they really don’t know.”

“I think nobody wants to know the time left.”

She said, “When my mother was told that her fractures were unexplained,” someone had gotten lazy and failed to follow up.

“My mom probably would have received her treatment earlier.”

“We have to just be grateful that now we understand what it is, and that we can make changes.”

Dr Tracey Gillies, NHS Lothian’s medical Director, explained that it was impossible to give advice on specific patient cases without the consent of each individual.

“We encourage anyone with questions about treatment or care to get in touch with us directly.