Survivor’s hope message
A Papakura cancer survivor is aiding those just like her, who are battling the same condition she once fought against.
In April 2015, Shelley Woodney had just celebrated her 43rd birthday when she found herself with a sore throat and feelings of nausea.
Thinking it was something minor, she visited her local medical centre only to be diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.
‘‘I was given three to six weeks to live without treatment,’’ the cancer survivor says.
Woodney’s diagnosis was devastating for her three children, at the time aged between 16 and 21, she says.
She was incapable of working and had to give up her ninemonth-old Labrador puppy.
Now 45, Woodney says she would have lost her home too if it wasn’t for her friends rallying to raise money.
Her life might not have been the same if it wasn’t for the continous support she received, and she in turn has delivered to survivors and carers through the Relay For Life event.
Thousands of people each year participate in Relay For Life, it’s a chance to celebrate cancer survivors, carers and remember loved ones who fought through similar battles.
Woodney first heard about the Relay For Life on the anniversary of her diagnosis.
Her friends suggested she should join as a survivor. Woodney says ‘‘there was a great vibe and neat atmosphere’’.
‘‘I had my best friends and family joining too. I chose Finding Nemo as our team name because my catchphrase was ‘just keep swimming’ when things got tough during my treatment.’’
She’s sharing her story of survival in the hope of motivating and inspiring people to join the Relay For Life event.
‘‘You don’t know when it’s going to happen to you, or to someone you love,’’ Woodney says, of cancer diagnosis.
‘‘Your life could change in a split second. It’s so important to have support.’’
It’s also about having a positive attitude. Woodney says when people see a woman walking down the street with a head scarf, don’t think of her as a cancer sufferer, instead think of her as a survivor with an army of people constantly behind her.
‘‘By doing Relay For Life, you’re giving your time, it’s a way to support people. When you think about what people go through during treatment, it’s nothing,’’ Woodney says.
Cancer Society spokesman Paul Hayes says ‘‘fundraising efforts will help provide funding for world-class cancer research’’.
Woodney soon commences a new position as a practice nurse in a local surgery and she has also bought a small home.
Relay For Life involves teams setting up camp and taking turns relay-style in walking or running around a track for 18 hours while enjoying a carnival atmosphere of music, entertainment, games, prizes and activities.
The next local Relay For Life event will be held at Bruce Pulman Park, Papakura, from 4pm on Saturday, April 7. To register or for more details see www.relayforlife.org.nz.