For 19-year-old Molly Dawson, cancer was an experience she never expected to have while working through her gap year.
The Bundaberg local had recently begun a teacher’s aid program at her former high school, Shalom College, when she found a concerning lump on her collarbone.
After months of testing, Ms Dawson was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma and began what would be eight months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Despite the long journey through treatment, Ms Dawson saw the light at the end of the tunnel when she was put into remission a few weeks before she finished her treatment.
Ms Dawson said her cancer experience changed her perspective on many things, including Cancer Council Queensland’s Relay For Life fundraising event.
“I participated in Relay For Life throughout high school, where it was simply a fun event with my friends to raise funds for a good cause,” Ms Dawson said.
“I would watch those like the Face of Relay talk about their experiences and be moved by them, so it’s very odd being on the other side of the fence now being a cancer survivor!
“Before I was diagnosed, I was lucky to have never had a close connection to cancer – none of my relatives or friends had experienced it.”
As Bundaberg Relay For Life’s Face of Relay 2020, Ms Dawson hopes to encourage the community, especially young locals, to get involved.
“Relay For Life is not just a ‘cancer event’ – it’s a special experience that brings the community together to lift each other up,” Ms Dawson said.
“They really are unforgettable events; I can still remember all Relays I’ve been to as such fun and heartfelt experiences.
“This year I’m looking forward to walking my own way – I’ve gathered some colleagues to walk around the school with me. Walking and talking with those around me are some of my favourite parts of Relay so I’m glad we still can do it our own way since we can’t all come together during this time.
“I’m also excited in a way to get emotional and watch the candlelight ceremony, it’s such as special way to acknowledge the impact of cancer on ourselves, our loved ones, and our community.”
Ms Dawson said her cancer experience has ignited a passion for encouraging young people to get to know their bodies and be cancer aware.
“When you’re young, you never expect it to be you, so it can be hard to think that it can happen to anybody, at any age,” Ms Dawson said.
“Relay For Life is a way of spreading that awareness and starting the conversation about the importance of knowing your body and knowing when to speak up when you notice something off or different.”
Together we are stronger than cancer
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the charity was delighted to have Ms Dawson as the Face of the 2020 Bundaberg Relay For Life.
“Each year in Queensland, around 29,000 people are diagnosed with cancer – these are people in our community we know; people like Ms Dawson,” Ms McMillan said.
“By joining Ms Dawson at the Bundaberg Relay For Life, you will give hope to all locals affected by cancer and help get one step closer to a cancer free future.
“This year, Relay For Life will look very different, but it will still be an unforgettable experience to unite the community to celebrate, remember, and fight back against cancer.
“Together, we are stronger than cancer – join Ms Dawson online at Bundaberg Relay For Life by registering today.”
More information about Relay For Life going virtual for 2020 is available here.
- More Relay news: Bundaberg Relay For Life event now free to register