Tuesday 25 October 2016

'I won't just be known as the Rose who beat cancer'

Published 20/08/2015 | 02:30

Newly crowned Rose of Tralee Elysha Brennan in the Rose Garden in Tralee
Newly crowned Rose of Tralee Elysha Brennan in the Rose Garden in Tralee

Rose of Tralee Elysha Brennan does not want to be remembered only as the Rose who survived cancer.

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But the 22-year-old medical student plans to write a book she hopes will help others battling the disease.

"There's so much more to me than cancer," she said.

"Cancer is part of me but not all of me. There are other strings to my bow.

"I do want to honour it though and if there was somebody out sitting at home like I was three years ago, it would give me hope."

The Bettystown, Co Meath, native was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma weeks before she sat her repeat Leaving Cert but has been in remission for the last two and a half years.

"I want to write a book because I actually found it hard to find someone in the public eye or the media that was speaking honestly about cancer so I would love to have had, not a self-help book, but an honest account of how things go," she said.

Elysha, who is single, says medicine has been her "boyfriend" for the past few years.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, she said that following Maria Walsh will be difficult but she will take a different path. "I want to honour Maria Walsh. I think she has left the door wide open for me but I'm a different person.

"I'm not the next Maria Walsh, I'm the new Elysha Brennan," she said.

"She can pass on the sash to me and hopefully it's in safe hands and I can do her proud, myself proud, my Rose sisters proud, the Rose of Tralee proud and Ireland proud.

"Maria has given me such a leg up and I'll be standing on the shoulders of a giant."

Now Elysha faces the huge decision on whether she will defer her studies at the Royal College of Surgeons to concentrate on her Rose duties.

"I'm going home today so I'll sit down and think things through. It's a huge decision to make and I won't make it light heartedly.

"I have amazing friends and we started this journey together. I always thought I'd finish it with them and we'd be on stage graduating together.

"But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity though too, and I won't get to do this again. There were 31 others on that stage who were equally as deserving, so I want to do everyone proud," she said.

Coming up for Elysha in the near future will be an appearance on the 'Late Late Show', a coup for the Tubridy fan, who has already texted her to wish her well.

Last year's Rose Maria Walsh is looking forward to some downtime and a well-deserved rest in California for 12 days.

Irish Independent

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