For the past 15 years cancer has been a daily part of Kathy Dann’s life and she has been relaying every year since.
Kathy considers herself a cancer survivor even though she’s never had the disease. But she was with her husband, Rod, when he suffered from a seizure out of the blue.
“That started the ball rolling,” Kathy said.
The healthy young family suddenly had their world turned upside down. Her husband was whisked down to Vancouver where doctors found a tumour in the motorcortext area of his brain.
“An operation later, doctors said it’s inoperable, and you just have to live with it,” she said.
That’s what they’ve been doing. Rod had chemotherapy and radiation 10 years ago and Kathy and their two boys have been living with the knowledge that the tumour is still there.
“It’s gone dormant but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not doing something,” she said.
As parents, Kathy and Rod haven’t sheltered their children. The kids know what their father went through and as a family “they’ve learned to live every day for every day.”
Every year, the family joins other people’s teams for the relay and the two boys will do the survivor lap with their dad. One year, the boys grew their hair to their shoulders and raised money to shave their heads at the relay. They raised $1,000 in donations between the two of them.
“They were pretty proud of themselves because it was for their father,” Kathy said.
This year, she is on the Too Tired To Be Inspired relay team for one of her best friends, Sheryl Sadorski-Gordon. (Last week’s article focused on Emily Gordon, Sheryl’s stepdaughter.) Both women work for the school district, and both women are steadfast in seeking only the light in the day.
“It is what it is. You can’t let it cloud your world. You have to get on with it,” she said.
Kathy has become her own warrior in the battle against cancer with all that she’s been through with her husband, her mother passed away from cancer, her father is fighting cancer right now and so is her best friend. While Kathy is sound of body, she is determined to stay sound of mind for those around her. She dwells in the good and refuses to get bogged down.
“I can be there to be the compass and to move you forward and find the good and talk to you about the future because we are going to have a future, we are going to have a life, we are going to do all those things we talked about,” she said in her role as supportive wife, daughter and friend.
After 15 years of participating in the Relay For Life, Kathy said the one thing she’s noticed that has changed over time is the luminaries at the end. She has seen more and more each year remembering those who passed from cancer.
“That to me is the more heartbreaking part that even though we’re doing all of this there’s still people dying,” she said.
But she won’t break down, she’ll stay strong and move forward. For this year’s relay she challenges everyone in the community to come forward and participate in any way to the cause.
“Do one lap. If you know someone, don’t know someone, it’s never touched your life, you’ve raised money, you haven’t raised money, just come and support everybody. That is what I would challenge the community to do.”