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Osoyoos family knows all too well about devastation caused by cancer
Maria Dias knows all too well about the devastation, destruction and death caused by cancer and that’s why she wouldn’t miss the Canadian Cancer Relay for Life event under any circumstances.
Dias, who has lived with her husband Joe and her family in Osoyoos for the past 39 years, is looking forward to competing in this year’s local Relay for Life, which is set to take place on Saturday, June 7 at the fields located behind the Sonora Community Centre and Osoyoos Secondary School.
“I haven’t missed one since they started this in Osoyoos more than 10 years ago,” she said proudly. “Cancer has been in my family, on both sides, for a very long time and I just have to try and do my part to try and find a cure.”
Besides losing a couple of uncles to the dreaded disease, Dias’ son David was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after a tumour was found in his chest as a 15-year-old back in 2000. Her brother Joe was also diagnosed with cancer in 2008.
The good news is both have beaten cancer and appear well on the road to recovery, she said.
“My brother is doing very well and recently became a father after being told that wasn’t possible,” she said. “My son was 15 when he was diagnosed and it was terribly frightening, but he has been cancer-free since and with the exception of a couple of scares, he has been able to lead a pretty normal life.”
She has lost uncles on her side of the family as well as her husband’s side of the family over the past 30 years.
Both of her husband’s parents had cancer as well.
When you hear your first-born son has been diagnosed with cancer at the tender age of 15, it’s devastating, she said.
“You ask why, then you ask why him and not me … those sort of things,” she said. “Of course we took it very hard and it takes some time to get over the shock, but my son was amazing and really took control and convinced himself and everyone else that he was going to beat this.
“He kept his spirits up and never got down and he made it through radiation and chemotherapy with flying colours and he did beat it just like he said he would. He’s a pretty amazing kid. He taught everyone in our family to enjoy today because you never know what tomorrow might bring.”
Her son, who will be turning 30 later this year, is studying to be an electrician.
While he has participated in the Osoyoos Relay for Life in the past, he won’t be making it for this year’s event, she said.
“He doesn’t make it home as often as I would like, but he usually gets home two or three times a year, but can’t make this year’s event,” she said.
Because cancer has caused so much worry and heartache in her life, Dias said there are times when she does get upset, but spends much more time trying to maintain a positive attitude just like her son did throughout his recovery.
“You do hate this disease, but you have to let it go and think about what you can do and try and find a cure,” she said. “There are less and less forms of cancer that are a guaranteed death sentence and there is more and more progress being made every year, so there are a lot of reasons to be encouraged.”
Participating in the Relay for Life is also a personal way to say thanks as the Canadian Cancer Society has helped her family on numerous occasions, said Dias.
“They helped us so much when we needed help when my son was first diagnosed,” she said. “They flew us to Vancouver for his treatment and put us up at Ronald McDonald House when we really needed a place to stay because we had just bought our house and had no money.
“That’s the biggest reason I wouldn’t miss the relay is because it’s my way of helping others and saying thanks.”
Dias will be the team captain for the Osoyoos Credit Union Travellers relay team that will be participating in just over one month.
The Relay For Life is always an unforgettable experience, she said.
“It’s a very emotional day as you often get sad, but you spend a lot more time laughing and enjoying the day,” she said. “There are a lot of tears from those who have lost loved ones and a lot of joy seeing the survivors participate.
“It’s something I love being part of.”