One of the many Wexford cancer survivors gearing up for the 4th annual Relay for Life in Páirc Charman in aid of the Irish Cancer Society is Philip Cullen.
The event taking place on Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14 will see more than 1,000 people of all ages taking it in turns to walk continuously around a track for 24 hours, raising funds for cancer research, remembering people who have died and celebrating those who have survived.
A total of 147 cancer survivors have signed up for the relay along with approximately 950 people registered on teams. It is expected that about 5,000 visitors will arrive during the 24 hours.
Last year the Wexford Relay for Life raised a massive €90,000 for the Irish Cancer society.
The opening ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday with survivors and people currently affected by cancer walking the track in a Survivors' Lap, as they are cheered and supported by everyone in attendance.
This is followed by a Caregivers Lap, recognising those who provide support to loved ones during cancer treatment.
There are also fun laps on various themes including 'Neon and Lights', '80's Lap', 'Unicorns and Glitter' and 'YMCA'.
After sunset, a Candle of Hope ceremony will take place with the lighting of candle bags to remember those who have died and to show cancer sufferers that they are not alone in their darkness. The 24-hour event finishes with a closing ceremony.
Philip Cullen is a 10-year cancer survivor who found himself with a fight on his hands in 2008.
'This wasn't a normal fisticuffs fight where you can see your opponent and you know what you're dealing with. My opponent was this huge thug who I named Chancer Cancer. His only purpose was to beat the living life out of me', said Philip. I was terrified because this bully had a reputation for winning. I knew it was going to be the hardest and most brutal fight of my life'.
But finding a way to beat cancer wasn't impossible, he said, and in his corner he had a network of support experts made up of doctors, family and friends.
'Cancer and the necessary treatment sometimes can bring you to your knees. It can smother you and suck all resistance from your body until almost every fibre of your being is ready to step over into the unknown'.
'You become accepting, almost content. You are ready. Then from nowhere, you hear a rallying call and the cavalry arrive', said Philip in a reference to the unrelenting support and uplifting sense of hope he received from those around him.
'You live to fight another day and another day and another day until eventually you become a survivor'.
Philip said that Relay for Life unites communities like Wexford in the fight against cancer, celebrates the lives of cancer survivors, recognises those who are undergoing treatment as well as the people who care for them.
'It remembers those we have lost and it strengthens our corner in the fight by increasing our knowledge of cancer and by raising money which enables the Irish Cancer Society to continue its life saving work both in research and services.'.
'So enjoy the weather, enjoy the music and above all, enjoy life', he said.
Gay Murphy, the chairperson of Wexford Relay for Life said the event has gone from strength thanks to the support of local people.
'Relay for Life is about a community that takes up the fight against cancer and there's no doubt that we do it in style here in Wexford', she said.
'Everyone has their own personal reasons for taking part. I Relay not only because I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 but also because my family has been devastated by cancer. I lost my dear mam to pancreatic cancer just before Christmas last year.'
'However, I take great encouragement from the fact that research will continue until we have a world without cancer. Until then, research is definitely helping to improve treatments and achieve better outcomes for those who are diagnosed and that's thanks to funds raised at events like Relay for Life', she said. There is no charge at Relay for Life. Parking is free and food and treats are available at a reasonable cost for families who turn up to support the event.