‘Wonderful’ to share relay ambassador role

Dual Relay for Life ambassadors Nicki Swift (left) and Natalie Yule Yeoman are excited to be be...
Dual Relay for Life ambassadors Nicki Swift (left) and Natalie Yule Yeoman are excited to be be taking a joint leading role in the 2022 event, coming up on March 5 at Forsyth Barr Stadium. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
Two Dunedin women have inspiring stories of resilience to share, as they step up to jointly take on the ambassador role for Relay for Life Dunedin 2022.

Breast cancer survivors Natalie Yule Yeoman and Nicki Swift have been mutually supportive friends since they met several years ago at the ExPinkt exercise training programme.

Mrs Swift said Mrs Yeoman’s determination and positive attitude had always been an inspiration to her, "so being able to share the Relay for Life ambassador role is going to be wonderful".

Mrs Yeoman was thrilled to have Mrs Swift by her side for the event.

"I feel so good about doing the ambassador role with Nicki — it will be very special," she said.

"We both feel privileged to be invited to do this, and hopefully sharing our stories will be helpful and inspiring for others."

Returning after two years of Covid-19-related disruptions, the Relay for Life Dunedin will be held on March 5, at Forsyth Barr Stadium, and will have a new 12-hour format — running from 10am to 10pm.

The community event, organised by the Cancer Society Otago-Southland, aims to "celebrate, remember and fight back" against cancer and is an important fundraiser for the society.

Mrs Yeoman and Mrs Swift will cut the ribbon to officially start the event and lead the survivors’ lap, and they will both tell their stories at the candlelight ceremony in the evening.

Named as ambassador for Relay for Life 2020, which was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mrs Yeoman has had a tough time of it in the past year.

"It is a big thing for me to be able to take on the role of ambassador this time, as I was unwell and in and out of hospital for much of last year," she said.

Mrs Yeoman has lived for some years with an incurable cancer diagnosis, after her breast cancer was misdiagnosed and led to multiple secondary tumours.

The retired teacher and musician explored her experiences, and her life-long love of music in her book, A Maze of Grace, published by Cuba Press in 2019.

"It is my story of going through all of that, and how I found a way to live with it, and to live a good, positive life."

A fantastic summer holiday in Wanaka with husband Selwyn, the couple’s five grown-up children, their wives, husbands and partners, and 13 grandchildren, had been very special and had given her an energy boost.

"It was just wonderful having that experience with 25 members of the family, and to have their love and support.

"The holiday created a whole heap of great memories, for all of us."

Mrs Swift has been experiencing her own challenges in recent months, after undergoing treatment for breast cancer in 2018.

In October, she was diagnosed with a new breast cancer (not a recurrence), and will undergo surgery tomorrow.

"It has been a difficult setback, but I have been looking for silver linings, and being invited to be Relay for Life dual ambassador is one of them," Mrs Swift said.

The love and support of her husband Roger and their "two amazing daughters", Devon and Zoe, as well as a caring network of family and friends, was helping her to get through the difficulties of treatment.

She had been fortified by a fabulous summer holiday with her husband — a couple of weeks in Wanaka, followed by biking the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

She had also been inspired by the "marvellous support" of her employers and workmates at Mason & Wales Architects, Mrs Swift said.

The firm will join forces with the Swifts’ company, enable.me Otago, to put together a Relay for Life team for the March 5 event.

Cancer Society Otago-Southland events and community campaigns team leader Emma Anderson is calling on the local community to get behind the Relay for Life by entering a team.

For more information, and to sign up, visit www.relayforlife.org.nz/dunedin

brenda.harwood@thestar.co.nz

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