A mum of two diagnosed with cancer on the day before her wedding anniversary is urging Scots to sign up for Relay for Life.
Tracey Roberts (41), is encouraging friends, families and work colleagues to enter teams for the overnight event on August 12 to raise life saving funds for Cancer Research UK. Teams of between eight and 15 people, of all ages and levels of fitness can take part in the event at Kirriemuir Show Field on August 12 and 13 which unites communities to help beat around 200 types of cancer.
And Tracey hopes many more cancer survivors will join her in a special ‘Lap of Honour’ called the Survivors lap which marks the start of the inspirational, fundraising festival.
Tracey of Forfar, Angus said: “It’s a chance to celebrate life, to honour those who have survived cancer but also remember and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives to the disease.
“My heart was breaking but bursting with pride at the same time during the Candle of Hope ceremony at Relay for Life last year. I’m so proud to be part of a Relay for Life event which is one of the biggest in Scotland and I’m really glad to return to be part of it this year. If cancer is caught early then the chances of treatment being successful is better. I hope by sharing my story I’ll inspire others and I might even save lives. It’s vital to spread the word that no one should ever be embarrassed to visit their doctor.”
Tracey who will be joined by her husband Graham, and children Cali, 16, and Conor, at Relay for Life recalls vividly her shock when she was diagnosed with vulval cancer on September 7, 2015, on the day before her 14th wedding anniversary.
Tracey said: “I felt terrified when I was told I had cancer and I struggled to hold back the tears when I told my children.
“It was difficult to talk about it at first but now I feel that women need to speak up about gynaecological issues. There is so much awareness about breast cancer thanks to high profile campaigns. It’s time there was that same level of awareness about issues down below which are so often dismissed as just women’s issues.”
Tracey visited her GP after experiencing persistent itching, but she had to return when cream and antifungals prescribed to get rid of the problem didn’t work.
Tracey also explained that she’d been suffering from pain and a blood stained discharge. A gynaecologist at Ninewells hospital, Dundee ordered a biopsy and days later, Tracey was told she had a pre-cancerous skin condition which could be treated with a steroid cream.
But later, cancer was diagnosed when Tracey returned to the doctor after noticing a lump had developed. She endured surgery to remove cancerous tissue but it was a hammerblow when Tracey discovered another lump and was told the cancer had returned. Tracey went through more surgery and in total had five lumps removed. She gets regular check ups, but is now cancer free.
Tracey will also take part in Relay for Life in memory of her mother-in-law, Anne Roberts who died from stomach and liver cancer in September 2015, only days after Tracey was first diagnosed. Cancer Research UK’s Relay For Life is a unique celebration of life and hope which unites communities to help beat cancer and culminates in a fantastic family and team experience.
Team members take it in turns to walk round a track while everyone else enjoys the carnival atmosphere. As the event continues non-stop through the night, team members not on the track take turns to rest, eat, or sleep in their tents, which are set up close by. As dusk falls, the atmosphere quietens as the Candle of Hope ceremony begins.
Relay For Life participants raise as much money as possible in the months leading up to the overnight celebration, through a wide range of activities from karaoke competitions to quizzes, supermarket bag-packs to charity balls, and securing donations from friends, family and work colleagues.