WHEN cancer survivor Carolyn Bishop takes part in her eighth Relay For Life tonight it will be with a much more personal motive than her first.
The Warrnambool mother joined her first anti-cancer relay in 2004. Two years later she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
After surgery and six months of fortnightly chemotherapy she has been “cancer free” since 2007.
“Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers, even more than breast cancer,” Mrs Bishop said. “When I was going through treatment and I ran into people that didn’t know I had cancer, I didn’t want to tell them because I didn’t want them to feel sorry for me.
“Even after, until you’re ready to talk about it you just can’t, not publicly anyway.
“It’s always at the back of your mind.”
She said raising awareness about cancer became a priority for many survivors of the disease, who feel lucky to be able to share their positive stories.
Mrs Bishop recalled a fellow patient joking about attempting to apply mascara, then realising she had no eyelashes.
About 1200 people are expected to join in tonight’s relay on the Deakin University oval.
“It means more to my family now they are in a team,” Mrs Bishop said.
“It’s a really great atmosphere out there, from little kids up to adults, a lot of repeat teams and a lot of new ones and some high schools have big teams.
“We have a ceremony to reflect on people who have passed from cancer, people who are currently fighting and people who have been diagnosed and are now free of cancer.”
“Often you see people there that you haven’t seen all year, so you do a couple of laps with them and have a catch-up chat.” Mrs Bishop said she hoped more people would get involved, raising more money to fund research and hopefully a cure.
Registrations open from 4 o’clock tonight with the relay starting at 7pm and a candelight ceremony at 9pm. The closing ceremony is at 1pm tomorrow.