After six weeks of severe knee pain, numerous visits to the doctor and tests, Kristy was told the news.
She had a tumour the size of a brick on the base of her spine, and it was pressing on her nerve endings. It was just days before her 21st birthday.
“It was a shock,” she shared. “You always have this mentality that it will never happen to you. We had to cancel my party. I spent my 21st in hospital.”
It took surgery, high-dose chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant and high doses of radiation but thankfully, Kristy is now cancer-free.
“The treatment saved my life,” she said. “It was long and hard, and there were times where I felt I couldn’t do it, but I also know I wouldn’t be here today without it.” That’s why Kristy decided she wanted to give back somehow. It was then that she came across Relay For Life.
“I joined a team at my church,” she said. “We do fundraising nights and barbeques and lots of things like that. Our team is small, but we’re big in spirit!
“The money goes to Cancer Council, which I think is important as they do a lot of studies and research into cancer. If they don’t research, they can’t find a cure. It’s important to try different things and study different outcomes and treatments.
“I also know they have a lot of support services available to patients and their families. From my experience, I know how important that is.”
Still for Kristy, one of her favourite things about Relay For Life is the actual event itself. “I love the fact that the whole community gets together and supports each other and supports this cause. Everyone is there to support those that are going through cancer, or who have lost a loved one. I just love that community feel.
“It’s also really special to be part of the survivor and carers lap. The community claps as you walk and it’s a very touching experience.”
Kristy hopes that by sharing her story she can inspire others to be part of Relay For Life. “I hope that people continue to join us and participate in Relay. Relay is so important, not only to survivors, but also to people who have lost loved ones and people who are going through cancer. The community support is so special to these people, who are going through a very difficult time.”