Why I Relay, Yvonne's Story

10 Apr 2021

My name is Yvonne Keane. I am a 6 year cervical cancer survivor and I became involved with Relay for Life Wexford in 2016. I was one of 17 Team Captains to register for what was Wexford’s very first Relay and that was when Team 'Sole' Mates was born.

I registered myself as a survivor that year. I wanted to give something back and I loved the idea of walking 24hrs to represent how cancer never sleeps! Anyone who has been through cancer knows that the days from diagnosis through treatment are long, I wanted to help others going through the same thing but I never imagined the positive impact it would have for myself and my family.

My son Seán was only 7 months old when I was diagnosed and I am so so blessed to have him. As with a lot of cervical cancer survivors the chance of having another child was stolen from myself and my husband Andy. I went through my cancer treatment very much behind closed doors. A lot of people assumed I had extended my maternity leave so I guess I just went along with it. I found it so hard to say the words 'I have cancer'. Why I don't know, maybe to save myself an awkward conversation or maybe it was just the harsh reality of saying it out loud. Putting on that purple survivor t-shirt for that first Survivors Lap in 2016 was like coming out. Yes I'm still here and yes I had cancer! I believe that first ever Survivors Lap was where my road to recovery really began.

Our Relay family, not only here in Wexford but all over Ireland and across the globe is just pure magic. Relay gave me strength and positivity at a time when I didn’t think I had any left. It gives a face to cancer in our communities and because of this it has given myself and so many others a positive outlet to turn our negative experiences into new positive ones. Because of Relay we can Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back together as one big united front against cancer. 

I am so proud to be a part of Relay for Life Wexford and what it has achieved in the last 5 years. I am honoured to have been selected in 2019 to represent Wexford and Ireland as a Global Hero of Hope. I am so proud to be team captain of ‘Sole’ Mates of Relay for Life Wexford and so proud to have hosted our relay charity balls alongside Jen, Amy and Jen. We swapped the walking track for the dance floor those nights and had so much fun in true relay style.

Through relay I have met so many amazing people and have been given so many opportunities to get involved in new things. Last year we had the amazing Sea of Change Choir perform at our charity ball and I had one of the best nights of my life singing with these inspirational ladies who continue to kick cancers ass at every turn while supporting their sisters unconditionally. I’m so glad to have met these ladies and I cannot wait for our paths to cross again.

Relay for Life is not just a 24hr event it is a whole new community. It is a support group, a walking group, a tea and scones kind of group and it’s where lifelong friendships are made. The amazing fundraising that was done last year in the middle of the pandemic is testament to that. 

So I suppose I relay for myself, for family and friends still fighting, for family whom I have lost to this disease and for those who can’t relay themselves. I relay for our wonderful relay committee who with such positivity and drive keep working year in year out to make sure nobody needs to go through this alone and I relay for our chairperson, Gay Murphy, who continues to inspire me every single day. I love you all.