'I'm so lucky' - Donegal Rose Chloe's joy after getting cancer all-clear
A young woman taking part in this year's Rose of Tralee has revealed that she only recently received the all-clear from cancer.
Chloe Kennedy, who was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin's lymphoma in September, told how she considers herself lucky, despite a tough year.
The Donegal Rose underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy and only recently received the all-clear.
Hodgkin's lymphoma is a blood cancer that starts in the lymphatic system and is most common in teenagers and young adults.
"It's one of the most treatable types of cancer, so I'm very lucky, considering," said the 20-year-old.
Chloe studies psychology at Maynooth University and took a year off from her studies to undergo treatment.
"Looking back, I might have been able to go to college, but we decided it was better I just take the year and focus on just getting better," she said.
"I was very lucky. I would have good weeks, during which I would just carry on as normal.
"I would go to see my friends in college and just got on with my life. That's all you can really do.
"Things are as good as you want them to be. If you let yourself see the good in a situation, it will become good. That's what I believe."
Competing in the Rose of Tralee gave her something to look forward to during treatment.
"It was something to direct my focus towards," she said.
"When I got the selection for Donegal, I was really looking forward to going there and meeting all the girls.
"It was a really great night in The Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town.
"When I actually got the Donegal Rose, it was just like being in a bubble. It didn't feel real.
"I just felt so lucky. At the start I was questioning, I was like, 'I'm so young, why am I here?' But I just have to trust the process and trust this is what I'm meant to be doing."
Chloe will return to college after the festival and cannot wait to resume her studies.
"I can't wait, I'm absolutely buzzing. After this, too. I'm just really, really looking forward to it," she said.
"College is my home away from home. I love Maynooth and just to see my friends again, I can't wait. They were so good to me throughout everything. I went and visited them a few times too.
"Yeah, so I'm just looking forward to going back to being a normal 20-year-old student," she added.
Earlier this week, host Daithi O Se introduced the 32 Roses who will take to the stage at the festival dome across Monday and Tuesday night for the televised live shows on RTE One at 8pm.
They include Dublin Rose Laura Vines, a veterinary nurse at Dublin Zoo.
The Shankill native spends her days tending to the needs of a herd of 11 elephants among other animals and has described it as her "dream job".
"I absolutely love it. It's a passion of mine - you wouldn't be able to pull me out of there by the hair," she said.
Laura will be demonstrating her animal whispering abilities with her puppy, Penny, for her 'party piece' on the festival dome stage in Kerry during the live shows.