Stories shared at Relay for Life

MOST people who attended Relay for Life at the weekend have experienced cancer come crashing into their world in some form during their lifetime, and many had lost family members or friends to the disease.

Local journalist and Queanbeyan Relay for Life ambassador Chris Kimball has made a career out of telling people's stories for ABC 7.30, and said he was very touched by the many personal cancer experiences he heard at Seiffert Oval last weekend.

"There's a great community feel about the event, and it really represents the fact that cancer doesn't discriminate: you had people from all walks of life and all shapes and sizes and ages, all there for the same reason," Mr Kimball said.

"Everyone had some pretty full-on personal stories, and it's an opportunity to share them with others. So I got a lot out of it in that respect."

The weekend marked a milestone in Mr Kimball's own cancer journey: Saturday was 12 months to the day from when he received a life-saving bone marrow transplant at Westmead Hospital, where he was being treated for a rare sub-type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

He spoke about his experience with cancer at the event's opening ceremony, and then participated in the rest of the event with his family, even camping out overnight with his seven-year-old son.

"A lot of people came up to me and talked about a similar experience, or that they'd lost someone in a similar situation. It's one of those rare chances where everyone affected by that is in the same place at the same time and you all do a bit of unloading, a bit of collective feeling," he said.

Another person putting in the laps at Seiffert Oval to fight cancer was Shelley Gafa, the captain of Queanbeyan's top fundraising team, the Top Chicks.

Ms Gafa led a team of 13 local women who have raised almost $11,000 for the Cancer Council. She said it was an enjoyable weekend for the group of girlfriends, but also an emotional weekend following the loss of her mother to lung cancer last year.

"I put the team together last year because my mum had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and she passed away in October. 

"So this year there was definitely extra motivation because of that. She actually walked with me last year at the Relay, so it was very emotional as well. The HOPE ceremony was particularly hard," she said.

Some 35 teams participated in this year's Relay for Life, with over $90,000 raised by time of print.

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