Jaye Dee Jeffrey developed bone cancer when she was in Grade 7.
The young Langley girl, who was one year younger than her good friend Jennifer Tyre, who grew up two houses away, immediately underwent chemotherapy treatment to eradicate the cancer.
After what “seemed like forever” of medicinal treatment to Jeffrey, the bone cancer had been removed from Jeffrey’s body and she was cancer free.
But that wouldn’t be the end of the story for the survivor.
After fighting and beating cancer, the Langley product, who had always been so spirited, charismatic and a “spitfire”, as Tyre described, got involved with the Canadian Cancer Society as much as one possibly could.
“She actually got a paying job at the cancer society and Relay for Life was a big part of what she did,” recalled Tyre last week.
However, with the amount of chemotherapy Jeffrey had undergone, doctors told her that her heart had been severely weakened and a transplant was going to be needed down the road.
In June 2003, Jeffrey was 26 and in the midst of organizing Relay for Life and planning her wedding.
As the day arrived for the 24-hour relay, Jeffrey, one of the day’s hardest-working volunteers, started to feel tired and weak. She told Tyre and her friends that she would leave the relay and head home.
“She said she hadn’t been feeling well and she wanted to get some rest because she had some things to do tomorrow for the wedding,” said Tyre.
So the 26-year-old organizer left the event, and Tyre’s team continued on deep into the early morning, eating snacks in their tent, listening to some live music and sleeping.
By 6 a.m., an announcement was made that during the night, Jaye Dee Jeffrey had suffered a heart attack and passed away.
“Everyone knew her there,” said Tyre.
“She had been cancer-free for so many years … but it was the heart attack … You always think the [heart transplant should be] some point in the future. [The doctors] didn’t say she had to have it right away.”
Years later, Tyre has moved to Prince Rupert after stops in Mission, Shearwater and Bella Coola, and will participate in the upcoming 2015 Relay for Life for her friend Jaye Dee Jeffrey and also for a good friend’s brother – Mark Wilson – who died at the age of 22 from a brain tumour.
“We were at a brunch [here in town], and one of my friends said Relay for Life is coming up. Since I left Langley I haven’t been able to do that, since the places I lived didn’t have it and I told the story to them and they said ‘let’s do it’,” said Tyre.
Her group of friends will participate under the team name “Jazzy Dragons”.
“We looked up all sorts of adjectives and then we decided that Jazzy Dragons would best fit Jaye Dee’s initials,” she said.
“We created little [dragon-style] headbands last year. I don’t know what we’ll do this year, but we’ll have those for sure and then we’ll bring our kids to make a family event out of it.”
“She was very outgoing … she brought people together. The things I think of [with Jeffrey] are all based on her social-ness,” said Tyre, recalling her friends.
“[Wilson] was adventurous. He was very into theatre – great at acting and in his high school he did lots of plays. When he got sick, we spent lots of time doing board games with him. He was kind; very kind and funny and humorous. He had just gotten back from [Europe] with his friends.”
The Prince Rupert 2015 Relay for Life will take place on Saturday, May 30 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Prince Rupert Middle School.
You can donate to Jazzy Dragons following the links at Prince Rupert’s online Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life page at http://convio.cancer.ca/site/TR?fr_id=18426&pg=entry.