Cynthia Pyde holds up a photo of her late husband, Dr. Frank Pyde, from inside her Prince Rupert home. Frank passed away in 2016 from pancreatic cancer. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Why We Relay: Cancer doesn’t just affect a family, it affects a community

Cynthia Pyde on why she walks in the Relay For Life, and her husband’s battle with pancreatic cancer

An individual never gets cancer, a family gets cancer.

Prince Rupert is a small community, with a big presence at the annual Relay For Life event.

For the 2018 Relay, there were 27 teams who participated, and more than $100,000 was raised for cancer research.

This year, Cynthia Pyde, who usually sings at the event, will be there to walk, and to be among friends who she considers family.

“Often our family in Prince Rupert involves a lot of friends, and I think, especially through my own journey with Frank having cancer, you realize that your friends hold you up as much as your family does,” she said.

Without looking away she shares her journey with her husband, Frank, and speaks of his happy childhood in Prince Rupert after moving from Bavaria when he was two, becoming friends with him in Vancouver, marrying him and deciding to build a life in the town he grew up in, having three children, Katyana, Micah and Juliana, and living full active lives on the North Coast where Dr. Pyde was known as a great dentist.

He was a hockey coach, an avid guitarist, cyclist, an okubutdoorsman, hunter and fond of cabin life on Lakelse.

“He could be accused of trying to fit in two lives into one, and he was the healthiest guy I knew for his age,” Cynthia said.

On June 2015, Dr. Pyde was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he was 59 years old.

“It was the start of our grieving because my husband was diagnosed with a deadly cancer,” she said.

For the next year, Frank survived 20 rounds of chemo, and was selected as one of 60 in Canada to be put on an immunotherapy trial. The trial didn’t go well, but Frank was a “gladiator” and was the last to be pulled off.

In August, the couple were at a wedding in Calgary when his cancer took off like wildfire and he was unable to return back to Prince Rupert. Although far from home, his three brothers lived in Alberta, their daughter lived in Calgary with his grandsons, and much of his family travelled to be with him in his final days.

READ MORE: Riding for a cause, Frank Pyde and family

At the Relay For Life in Prince Rupert, Cynthia normally performs on stage with her friend Ray Leonard. The spring before Frank passed away, she said her husband came to the Relay and had tears in his eyes.

“Just seeing all the people walking for their friends, for their family, not forgetting, remembering those who had gone on that didn’t survive, but also celebrating the survivors … I don’t know, he was just really touched by it,” she said.

The Relay raises money for cancer research, to ensure there are more survivors. Cynthia would also like to see an expanded cancer facility in the Prince Rupert hospital with more services, and more space for patients.

READ MORE: 2018 Relay For Life raises $100,698

A friend of hers just spent six weeks in Prince George to receive radiation. It was either travel by bus north for ten hours or fly south to Vancouver. A long way from home.

Cancer is going to affect every family in some way, Cynthia said. “And if it doesn’t, it’s going to affect your friends, and in Prince Rupert if you’ve got friends they’re your family anyway. We just have to do this together, and the Relay is about that.”

“It’s just making sure that we walk around and laugh and talk and celebrate the survivors,” she said.

The Relay For Life will take place on May 25 at the Prince Rupert Middle School track from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.

READ MORE from the Why We Relay series

Shannon Lough | Editor
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In the initial publication of this story it was incorrectly stated that Frank and Cynthia Pyde’s children’s names are Jamie, Micah and Juliana. However, Jamie is Katyana’s husband’s name.

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