Memorial remembers a generous spirit
For 23 years, Joyce deHaan fought cancer that had invaded her body.
The disease started in her breast, then later spread to other parts. Five years ago, cancer took her life.
She was 63.
Sharon Schultz said her sister was able to carry on for so long because of her optimistic and generous spirit, and support from family and friends.
In 2009, Schultz named an event, Joyce deHaan Memorial Mad Hatter Tea Party, after her sister.
It’s since raised more than $10,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society and about 600 new hats have been donated.
The fifth annual event, held Saturday afternoon at Black Knight Inn, drew more than 360 guests.
Schultz said the support from the community has been immense.
She initially held a small tea party at the school she works at and there, staff brought in about 80 hats.
“It just developed from what I thought would be a small event,” said Schultz.
“And now we have 360 people coming and everybody is really into it. It’s a fun event that’s focused on celebrating and education.”
The event recognizes a cancer survivor or someone who has died from the disease.
This year it was Florence Embury, who died at age 71 on Jan. 9, 2008 after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer in June 2007. On May 3, 2008, her family held a fundraiser in her memory and raised more than $180,000 to support palliative care, including the Red Deer Hospice.
Three scholarship programs were set up through the Red Deer College nursing program and another scholarship program was set up for employees of Unit 32 at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
Her daughter, Lisa Ransom, of Red Deer, spoke at the event.
“Through the generosity of so many people, their donations have helped her memory live on,” said Ransom.
Ransom also encouraged people to not be afraid if they feel something is wrong with their health.
Go get the answer until you find it, she said. Ransom’s mother had many years of misdiagnoses.
“And don’t be afraid to fight for your health,” said Ransom. “Sometimes you don’t have to be polite.”
The money raised at the tea supports two initiatives.
A hat room will be located within the Central Alberta Cancer Centre set to open this spring on the southwest side of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
All the hats are free that cancer patients can browse through.
Schultz said they can take as many as they want at one time.
“Sometimes they’ll have a wedding to go to and they don’t want to spend $30 or $40 on a hat,” said Schultz. “Sometimes they just need a fun hat to go to an event.”
The money is also being used for the cancer society to buy and maintain wigs.
The final fundraising tally from Saturday’s event was unavailable.