Women give cancer a run for its money
When Kelly Ludlow cheered on her best friend Linda Dobson at the Cancer Society Relay for Life, she never imagined she would face her own battles with the disease.
But on March 22 she will be joining her friend in the "survivors' round" of the relay as their eight children watch on.
Last September Ms Ludlow was diagnosed with cancer, and was supported by Ms Dobson, who beat breast cancer 15 years ago.
Both were diagnosed with cancer after giving birth and have struggled to juggle family life and battles with the disease.
Ms Dobson found out about the golf-ball sized cancer in her breast 15 years ago, after having trouble breast feeding.
Ms Ludlow was diagnosed with cervical cancer, but with four children each, they "didn't have time for cancer".
"I've just had a baby," Ms Dobson told her doctor when she found out. "I've got his 21st to organise and I'll be there for that, and then when we've done that we'll have a 30th and a 40th; we'll see where we go from there."
Her friend almost echoed her words 14 years later.
"When you have small children and you're going through it, you don't really have time to think about yourself," she said.
Ms Ludlow had the added burden of sons with Aspergers and autism, but she said her kids had given her a "reason to be here".
"They are our strength."
The "besties", who met through mutual friends and "just clicked", have done Relay for Life for years, and say they love it so much they just can't stop.
Thanks to their efforts, the New Plymouth Cancer Society is able to help patients like them in New Plymouth, providing a free shuttle to treatment in Palmerston North and supporting research.
"It just sucks that cancer affects so many people," said Ms Ludlow.
"And it affects the wrong people, that's what irritates me," said her friend. "It's always beautiful people."
Bethany Pearson is a Whitireia journalism school student.
Taranaki Daily News