Working as a nurse at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, Roxanne Fitzsimmons knows what battling cancer looks like. But her work to fight the disease — and support those affected — doesn’t stop there. Her experience is personal, too. Several of Fitzsimmons’s family members have had cancer, some eventually passing away. A couple of years ago, one of her best friends in Prince Rupert was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“When you watch someone take their last breath and watch that partner or mother holding their loved one’s hand…” she said, then paused. “To be a part of something that’s hopefully going to stop that and make a difference in treatments or how comfortable we can make them, that would be great for everyone to be a part of.”
This was when Fitzsimmons decided to get even more involved — she joined Relay for Life.
“When you realize what a difference this community makes in cancer care, like the money that gets raised either through the relay or the cancer auction, it’s just astounding,” Fitzsimmons said.
“To help in any way would be an honour.”
For the past two years, she’s been on the Women of Steel, White and Teal group led by Sheryl Sadorski-Gordon. Last year, Fitzsimmons walked with Trina MacDonald, her friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer and ended up being lapped by the survivor. While she’s not sure whether she’ll walk or manage a booth for her dragon boat team at this year’s relay, you can count on Fitzsimmons being there.
“Wherever they put me, I’ll go,” she said.
Beyond the money raised, Fitzsimmons adds, the importance of Relay for Life is the support demonstrated for everyone impacted by cancer. There’s the awareness raised, the sharing of information and resources. Then there’s being surrounded by a crowd of people who know what it’s like.
“You know everybody else is there going through the same thing, the same emotions, the same histories,” she said. “There’s such a sense of community and togetherness that’s involved in the Relay. As much as a sad event as it could be… we’re there to honour those who have survived and those who have not. And help those who are still trying to fight through it.”
Together, everyone will stand and watch the candles being lit for the last lap. The fight won’t stop here.