Kerry Rose Julett Culloty brushed tears from her cheeks yesterday as she told how she had been diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago.
“Things are good. It’s a big change from this time last year but it is a fantastic change,” said Julett.
She was standing arm in arm with Meath Rose, Elysha Brennan, from Bettystown, Co Meath, who is two and a half years in complete remission after being treated Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Elysha, 22, a second year medical student, said she was now happy, healthy, and delighted to be one of the 32 Rose of Tralee contestants.
“Things are definitely coming full circle in my life. I have so much positivity now,” she said.
The Roses were in Dublin to meet Dáithí Ó Sé, who will presented the live televised International Rose Selection on RTÉ One for the sixth year running next week.
Julett, 25, from Kilcummin, Killarney, a social care worker, said she never thought 12 months ago that she would be the Kerry Rose.
She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in April last year and has since made a full recovery.
“I am doing really well now so it is all good.”
Presenter Dáithí Ó Sé with Scotland Rose Brid Madigan and Germany Rose Roisin Ni Mhatuna.
Elysha said she was at stage two cancer when she was diagnosed — she had a lump on her neck for 10 months. “I deferred chemotherapy for a couple of weeks so I could sit my Leaving Certificate examinations. I was given the all clear in February 2013.”
Holding Julett tightly when she became tearful, Elysha added: “We are being kept busy now so we have no time to think or worry about anything. We are in a bubble and it is so amazing.”
Julett said her ambition was to raise awareness of cancer. “After I was diagnosed with the illness last year I have spoken in public and to people whose lives have been affected by cancer in a bid to give them a sense of hope and positivity.”
Elysha is also a volunteer with the Irish Cancer Society because she too wants to give hope to people who receive a cancer diagnosis.
“I want people to know you can come out the other side happy and healthy.”
Dubai Rose, Marie Ryan, from Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary, said she entered the competition in memory of her sister, Louise, who died by suicide in 2005.
Marie has taken a career break from her teaching job in Co Limerick and currently teaches maths in Raffles International School in Dubai. “This year is Louise’s 10th anniversary and I am proud to be marking it in a very special and positive way for my family.”
Dáithí said his main job was to make sure that the Roses felt comfortable on stage.
“I never worry about mistakes. What I have learned most from presenting the show is simply to enjoy it.”
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