John's story

"I am one of the lucky ones. I’m a Survivor. Relay is my way of helping to create a cancer-free future."


With apologies to Dale Kerrigan of The Castle fame, my name is John Clements, and this is my story.

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in March 2007, and I completed twelve courses of chemotherapy over six months. To add salt to the wound, during my treatment I also lost my mother to cancer. But I credit her for saving my life. Without her pestering me to have a bowel screening test, I wouldn’t be here today to tell my story.

While I had no symptoms, the test didn’t show up as clear and so, as a good friend of mine said when he saw me at Ashford Hospital for the first time, "Welcome to the club". It is a unique club – a club where your beliefs are tested, a club where you question many facets of life and the universe, a club where you can become very egocentric and wholly focused on yourself, your treatment and your future. A club that no-one wants to become a member of.

Since my diagnosis I’ve taken part in many Relay For Life events and have been a team member, team captain, committee chair, committee member and an active member of the South Australian Relay community. In June 2010 I also became a Cancer Council Ambassador.

In late 2013 I was named a Global Relay For Life Hero of Hope. I was very surprised when I found out. I became involved in Relay For Life because I wanted to fight cancer, not because I wanted to be recognised – but I’m very grateful that I have been.

I am one of the lucky ones; I’m a Survivor. But after my diagnosis, it became important to me to do all that I can to fight the disease and I do that through Relay For Life. I have very much enjoyed my involvement with Cancer Council since I was first diagnosed in 2007. It’s important to me to encourage other people to get involved in Relay For Life, because I know how much of an impact it has in the fight against cancer. I’ve always been very community-minded, and this is my way of helping to create a cancer-free future.

I would especially like to offer my heartfelt thanks to my wife Louise, who has supported me through the whole cancer experience.

With apologies again to Dale Kerrigan, my name is John Clements and that was my story.