'Cancer is so limited': Survivor shares inspiring insight
WEARING angel wings in honour of her loved ones who already gained theirs, Hayley Williams read a moving poem to begin the Carers and Survivors walk at Maryborough Relay for Life.
"Cancer is so limited, it can't cripple love... it can't quench the spirit," Ms Williams read.
Ms Williams, this year's Face of the Relay, is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2013.
But she also carried the event's honorary title for her father, who died from pancreatic cancer, and her friend Therese, 37, who lost her battle with bowel cancer.
Leading the first lap of Saturday's relay holding the event banner, Ms Williams was joined by her family.
"I love all aspects of Relay For Life, but my favourite is the Survivors and Carers Walk, because not only do we all unite, I get to share that special moment with my husband and two sons," she said.
"My family has been a huge part of my cancer journey.
"I'm so proud of my boys. Both were the highest youth fundraisers, raising a total of $830 between them in just one week.
"They couldn't have done it without some special people who really got behind them.
"Noah was in his element right until the very end. He was shattered but he still joined in the games, kept walking and fundraising, and even took out first place in Relays Got Talent at 10.45pm."
Ms Williams has been participating in the relay for the past six years.
"There are so many wonderful women in my life who are currently being tested or treated, and others who have battled and survived," she said.
"Sadly, some have grown their angel wings too soon. All of these women are a true inspiration to me and others, and highlight why it's so important to know our bodies and get checked.
"If something doesn't feel right, go see your doctor and persist if you need to.
"It took a lot of doctors' visits and over three years to receive my diagnosis. We are never too young for any cancer.
"To me, the Face of the Relay role was the perfect platform to highlight cancer awareness in young adults and cancer prevention through things that are readily available."
Cancer is not the only battle the mother-of-two has won.
Ms Williams survived a horrific car crash involving a truck, which not only broke her neck, but left her drenched in fuel for a month as she could not shower in hospital. She said her struggles had made her a stronger person.
"Cancer changes people. It sculpts us into someone who understands more deeply, hurts more often, appreciates more quickly, cries more easily, hopes more desperately, loves more openly, and lives more passionately," she said.
"Bladder cancer is a disease that primarily affects older men who have been exposed to or worked with chemicals. At 46, I am one of the youngest patients locally, among very few women.
"The strength my family and friends have given me throughout this time has been amazing. I always draw on this as I wait for each cystoscopy.
"The result has always been a celebration, and even if it wasn't, it's definitely worth showing up to stay on top of it."
IN HONOUR OF MUCH LOVED TEACHER
TINANA State School staff donned their most colourful outfits to walk in honour of past Prep teacher, Joanne Finn.
Sally Donohue said Joanne lost her battle with breast cancer almost exactly a year ago on Saturday.
"We all are walking for personal reasons as well but Joanne inspired us to put in a team," Sally said.
"We are here today in her honour.
"Joanne was at our school for more than 20 years.
"She had such a bubbly personality.
"If you knew her you loved her. She has taught so many children over the years and had an impact on so many lives."
TEAM BEHIND OUR MARYBOROUGH TEAMS
FOR the fifth consecutive year, the Rapid Relief Team fed hungry relayers in Maryborough.
Lloyd Grimshaw from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church said the church's charity arm, RRT, held the Cancer Council event in high regard.
"The community bands together in support of one another to remember those lost and those who are still fighting," Mr Grimshaw said.
"By the size and scale of these events it is clear that cancer does not discriminate and that it affects families right across Australia and it is very moving how tragedy can bring communities together.
"It was great for our volunteers in Maryborough to cheer our relay runners on, serve up refreshments and support a worthy cause which is what the Rapid Relief Team is all about," he said.
"As Christians, it is part of who we are to help those who need it and support community causes, so we are pleased to have lent a hand in Maryborough."