Relay For Life take somber tone as event's inspiration passes | DrumhellerMail

Relay For Life take somber tone as event's inspiration passes

relay.jpgThe driving force behind bringing the Relay for Life cancer fundraiser to Drumheller, passed away peacefully last Thursday in Drumheller. 34-year-old Tanya Howard’s legacy of a loving mother, wife, friend and caring nurse will live on. Her gift of moving a community into action to battle cancer at the Relay for Life after making her own battle very public, will never be forgotten by hundreds that grew to know and love her, and by probably thousands more whodidn’t have the chance to meet her. “Relay was never about her,” her husband Darrin told The Mail. “It was about people coming together for a common goal, to find a cure for all cancers. It was a time to hope and to have strength that there was a cure for having cancer. “Tanya always said, ‘a hug cannot cure cancer, but it can heal you in a way no drug can.’” Tanya grew up in Rockyford and received her Bachelors Degree in Nursing from Red Deer College. Her career took her to the Peter Lougheed Intensive Care Unit in Calgary, and a practicum in Yellowknife, before she settled back in the Drumheller area to start a family with husband Darrin Howard. Together they raised three sons, Joel, Matthew and Mitchell.


Two and a half years ago she was diagnosed with a cancerous mass on her brain. About a year into her treatment she was also diagnosed with colon cancer. Faced with what seemed insurmountable odds, she took on the challenge to bring the Relay For Life to Drumheller. The instigating experience was her participation in the Survivor’s Lap at the Strathmore Relay for Life. “I told my friends, this was my dream–to get this going in Drumheller. My friends all said ‘I’d love to help,’ and before we knew it we had all of the committees filled, and we went forward,’ she told The Mail last year leading up to the inaugural Drumheller event. 2008 Relay for Life Chair Merridy Martin spoke for all those who helped organize the event when she said, “It was a pleasure and honour for everyone on the committee just to help her make her dream a reality.” Belinda Wilson, one of Tanya’s good friends on the organizing committee told The Mail her strength showed putting together the Relay. “She was determined to make it the best she could, and with her persistence it far surpassed what most of us thought it would,” said Wilson. “I believe she never once thought it would be anything else.” In June 2007, Tanya led the Survivor’s Lap at the Drumheller Relay For Life that raised nearly a half a million dollars in a community of less than 10,000 people. Wilson said Tanya was one of the bravest people she knew. “She would want other people who are diagnosed with cancer or some other illness to know there is hope and one must never give up. She has taught me that everyday is a gift we are blessed with.” Tanya’s funeral was held yesterday (Tuesday, May 20) at the Drumheller and District Agriculture Society building.