BAIE VERTE, NL —Michelle Small’s bedside photo of her father serves as a daily reminder of the man who meant so much to her.
Ross Wells died two years ago — a few years after a colon cancer diagnosis shocked the Wild Cove family.
“It was Dec. 18, 2012, and I will never forget that day,” Small told The Nor’Wester.
Always close to her father, it was through his battle with cancer and ultimately losing that fight she says she learned just how special a man he was.
Small took time from her career to become her father’s caregiver. She was by his side through radiation treatments and chemotherapy, travelling to St. John’s, recalling how he enjoyed his Mary Brown’s lunches and Tim Hortons treats as much as she remembers the agony of those treatments.
Through it all – even during these most difficult of times – her father taught her a lot from his attitude and perspective.
He was 70 years old, but age doesn’t soften the shock of a cancer diagnosis, according to Small. While she cried profusely, she said she never saw her father shed a tear over the fate he was dealt.
“He just said it is a part of life and there is nothing you can do about it,” she said. “He was 100 per cent positive right through the whole two years that he did treatments. He taught me how to be positive. He was the most positive, almost superhuman, type person that I have ever known in my life.”
Even after his treatments ended and he was given three months to live, Small said her father did nothing but think of others during his final three weeks in the world. He died in his own bed March 15, 2015.
Small remembers how great the doctors and nurses at the Baie Verte Peninsula Health Centre were in helping provide care for her father, making it as easy as possible to provide end-of-life care to him while he was at home.
These days, Small serves on a committee for the annual Relay for Life event in Baie Verte. She has done so for three years now and remembers fondly the times she participated in the event as a team member years ago.
As she volunteers for the event, and on the day of the relay, her father is on her mind first and foremost, she said.
“It is hard,” she said. “I talk about it, but when I talk about it, I relive the whole thing.
“I have his picture on my bedside table, and I look at him every single day. I have all good memories of him.”
Small is just one of the people who helps make so many great memories for so many people at the Relay for Life event in Baie Verte. Her father had a lot to do with why she can do that.
Annual Relay for Life in Baie Verte this Saturday
BAIE VERTE, NL — With teams in place, Michelle Small is now hoping the community gets out to support the annual Relay for Life in Baie Verte Saturday, Oct. 14.
The 11th annual event for the Baie Verte Peninsula is taking place at Copper Ridge Academy, noon to 8 p.m.
There are just four teams registered, said Small, but two of those teams have a lot of participants. The relay volunteer is hoping that can help propel the event towards another success.
However, she said seeing a lot of people attend as spectators can also provide a lift to the organizers, cancer survivors, and relay participants at the event.
“I would really like to encourage the general population to come out and join us,” Small said. “It’s not only to raise money, but also to honour the survivors.”
Money raised goes to Daffodil Place in St. John’s — a 24-room facility operated by the Canadian Cancer Society Newfoundland and Labrador division for people with cancer and their caregivers who travel to St John’s for cancer care.
This year’s teams include one from Middle Arm, one from Burlington and another from Ming’s Bight. The Advocate Youth Services Co-Operative (AYSC) in Baie Verte also has a team.
The event gets underway at noon, and the opening ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. The Survivors Lap and Luminary Ceremony will take place early in the event. There will be various games and activities for participants throughout the event.
This year’s event is being held under the theme of the Canada 150th anniversary celebrations. Participants are asked to honour regions of the country — western, central, Atlantic and northern — by bringing items representing each region to wear or showcase during segments of the relay.
There will also be entertainment throughout the event, including a number of local musicians.