Sarah O'Keefe beats cancer again; now she's helping to raise money for the Cancer Society

By Bridget Rutherford

Sarah O'Keefe and Lynne will be among 250 people to ride the 250km from Christchurch to Hokitika as part of the Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari, to raise money for cancer. Photo / Christchurch Star
Sarah O'Keefe and Lynne will be among 250 people to ride the 250km from Christchurch to Hokitika as part of the Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari, to raise money for cancer. Photo / Christchurch Star

Sarah O'Keefe is used to facing challenges.

The 32-year-old was diagnosed with hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer, about 10 years ago and since then has fought off the disease three times.

Now she faces a different challenge - going on a road trip with her mother, Lynne, to the West Coast on scooters to raise money for the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

The pair will be among 250 people to ride the 250km from Christchurch to Hokitika on scooters as part of the Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari on September 10 - and it will be a new experience for both of them.

"Mum's never ridden one, and I only have in Rarotonga," Sarah said.

With the help of Aked Mobile Hose and Fittings, where Sarah's partner Matt works, they were able to buy new scooters, and race jackets.

Sarah was diagnosed with hodgkin's, which originates from a specific type of white blood cells, just months after her 21st birthday.

She underwent chemotherapy, and got the all clear about 10 months later. But the following year it was back. After radiation treatment, Sarah was given the all clear for a second time.

But 10 years later, in November, she began to have stomach pains. The doctor initially believed it was gallstones, but it turned out she had tumours in her stomach.

"If its going to come back it generally comes back within a couple of years, so it's kind of unusual its come back 10 years later."

She had to undergo a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy and on July 15, was told she had won the battle.

"I burst into tears when I found out," she said.

Although she knows she is susceptible to getting other types of cancer in the future, she tries not to think about it.

Sarah has been through a lot, also losing her boyfriend, Kenny Millar, who was killed in a motorcycle accident on a West Melton farm in 2014.

"It's been tough but I've got there and I'm starting to feel better."

• A quiz night to raise money for their Tranz Alpine Scooter Safari journey will be held at Bailies Bar & Restaurant, Edgeware, on August 22, or donate at www.scootersafari2016.everydayhero.com/nz/lynne

- Christchurch Star

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