Nicole Wongkee walks in memory of her mother and for every family affected by the disease. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

Why we Relay: Saying ‘up yours’ to cancer

Prince Rupert resident Nicole Wongkee walks in memory of her mother

Eighteen years after she walked a track in her first Relay for Life event, Nicole Wongkee continues to see how powerfully it can bring together all the people whose lives have been affected by cancer.

“It’s important for me to participate because it’s something I can do to support others and try to fight cancer,” she said. “I think it gives us hope and encouragement that no matter how bad it gets for someone, someone else is there for you.”

Wongkee did not have a personal connection to the relay when she first took part in it in 2000. She happened to be visiting her aunt in Kitimat on the day that her aunt was participating in a walk. Wongkee decided to participate in the event to show her support and was immediately struck its uplifting atmosphere.

“I saw all these people that were there, and as sad as the day can be, there was a lot of love and a lot of hope there that touched me,” she said.

Wongkee immediately began to think of how she could help and contribute to the cause, and continued to walk in the years following that. In 2010, Wongkee’s mother, Clara Downey was diagnosed with cancer and quickely succumbed to the illness.

“She went to the hospital in December and passed away in February,” said Wongkee. “It was devastating because she was my best friend.”

READ MORE: Roxanne Fitzsimmons, An honour to help

Her mother’s death made the relay more personal for Wongkee, as she had to work through the anger and frustration that comes with losing a loved one. Eventually, however, her thoughts turned to how she could continue to contribute to the cause.

“I just thought ‘I need to do something about this, I can’t help my mum anymore, but there are other ways I can help and support,’” she said. “And I thought it was just a good way to remember her.”

Wongkee has since continued to walk in her mother’s memory and in steadfast support of those who have been touched by it. In 2015, she began to walk with a Prince Rupert group called the White and Teal Women of Steel, a team made up of teachers and child support workers in the city. Wongkee said the bond she has formed with that group has grown over the years to the point that she considers them each to be close friends.

Wongkee’s walk will continue on May 26, and her fight against cancer will never end.

“Yes, cancer kills, but it doesn’t kill friendship and love,” she said. “It can’t take our memories our faith and our hope, and it’s kind of my way of saying ‘up yours’ to cancer.”

READ MORE: Jacob Gordon will Relay for Life until he can’t anymore



newsroom@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Prince Rupert students learn to chase away anxiety

Author Amanda Stern presented at Prince Rupert Middle School on Feb. 22

Northern residents rejoice at increased BC Ferries sailings

B.C. government announced that service will be restored to 2014 levels

Rio Tinto donates $50K for Shames Mountain chairlift upgrades

The money was used to purchase the chairlift’s bull wheel replacement last summer

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Cullen remains uncertain about political future

Says he’ll make decision in early March

Ice skating on the North Coast, a rare treat

Seawolves hockey players bring their gear to Oliver Lake this week to play on the outdoor rink

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Pope’s sex abuse prevention summit explained

It’s A high-stakes meeting designed to impress on Catholic bishops the global problem

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Most Read