Tara Sutherland with her father James.

Relay for Life gives Tara Sutherland chance to honour father

When Tara Sutherland’s father James was diagnosed with bladder cancer six years ago, she was admittedly ignorant about the possible effects of the disease and thought he would battle through it.

“I never thanked him for being a good father,” she said during an interview outside La Baguette. “One of the ways for me to deal with it was to not deal with it. It was much easier for me that way. I feel like I could have been at the hospital more, I could have talked to him more, I could have said a better goodbye to him.”

Now, five years after he passed away, Sutherland is looking to make amends of sorts by leading the Big Idiots Relay for Life Team as a way to commemorate him. “I thought this would be a really good way to do something to honour his memory,” she said.

Coincidentally, her decision to get involved coincided with her recent pregnancy and she felt volunteering will help add to the significance of this part of her life – that when she reflects on her pregancy she’ll also think of her father.

James Sutherland was 57 when cancer took his life. He ran his own construction business and was an active hockey player, which is why it was so hard for Tara to see him struggle with the fatal disease. She watched as he suffered through radiation treatment.

“It was awful, you could see he was in the pain,” she said. “If I can think of one thing that was the hardest about him passing, it was to see a man that was that strong physically and that busy, to see him wither to 110 pounds of nothing and have no strength emotionally and physically.”

It was an eye opening experience for her considering her initial hopes and helped increase her awareness of the disease.

Tara moved to Revelstoke from Calgary four years ago, not too long after James died. She said her dad went through a lot of hardships during his life – his father passed away when he was young and in the 1980s he lost both his business and house but was able to bounce back.

She sees quite a bit of her dad in herself – his stubborn streak, work ethic and sense of humour. As she sat outside remembering her father, a train rumbled past.

“If he was alive still I think he’d be out here quite a bit.”