Mixed emotions as cancer survivor walks for those who didn't

RETURNING home for Relay For Life brings mixed emotions for Mark Lee.

In 2007, when he was 22, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

He went through two rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant in Geelong.

“Mid-way through 2008 the treatment finished,” he said.

“It was between the two rounds of chemotherapy though that I was cleared.”

The former Emmanuel College pupil, who now works for South West Coast MP Denis Napthine in Melbourne, said Relay For Life was an annual event important to him and his family.

“Like so many people, it reminds me of times that were difficult,” he said.

“There are so many mixed emotions. At the same time I was diagnosed, my dad’s sister, my aunty, was diagnosed with cancer.

“She passed away in 2007. Ever since then the whole family has done Relay For Life,” he said.

“I know it means a lot to my family, particularly my dad and his siblings who lost a sister.”

For Warrnambool’s Ian McConnell, being impeded by crutches wasn’t enough to stop him walking for loved ones lost.

Mr McConnell said he lost his father and sister to cancer. His son also had cancer but recovered.

“I’ll do six or eight laps and then I’ll go home,” he said. “It’s nice to be among people who have gone through it.”

Magical Memories was among the 47 teams which took to the oval on Friday night.

Group member Michelle Greaves said that after years of attending the group of family, friends and workmates decided to enter their own team.

“We’re here for the ones we’ve lost but have left magical memories and the ones who have kicked its arse,” she said.

The group raised more than $3000 for the Cancer Council.

Group captain Daphne Smith and her 10-year-old daughter Brianna cut their locks and donated their hair to the Alopecia Foundation Wigs For Kids program.

“I decided I would do it and then Brianna said she would too,” Ms Smith said.

“Any money raised from the hair cut was donated to the Cancer Council.

“It will grow back, whereas these children might never have hair.”

Warrnambool Relay For Life chairwoman Fran Hynes said about 1200 people took part and $113,500 was raised.

She said the number of participants was similar to previous years.

“We’re very, very happy,” she said. “The weather was fantastic. It was a really lovely event. It had a very lovely feel.

“Now we start planning next year’s.”

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