Relay for Life Joondalup: Barb Howard an inspiration for cancer carers

One of Barb Howard's treasured family photos, including her husband Mike and son James who both survived cancer, and daughter Rachel. Picture: Viva Joondalup
One of Barb Howard's treasured family photos, including her husband Mike and son James who both survived cancer, and daughter Rachel. Picture: Viva Joondalup

EDGEWATER resident Barb Howard’s heavy involvement in the Relay For Life stems as much from the carers perspective as it does celebrating her own family’s wins over cancer.

Mrs Howard, who is part of the organising committee for the Joondalup event, has had her own family cancer scares not once but twice.

“I relay for future generations, the most important thing is to educate about early detection and prevention and let people know there is help,” she said.

Both her husband Mike and son James faced battles with testicular cancer within the space of five years and she was forced to combine studying for her Masters with running the family business, while dealing with one of life’s greatest uncertainties.

“It’s really tough, as a carer you are isolated, people want to help but they hide away because the word cancer is such a taboo,” she said.

“I too didn’t know how to handle it, but I had no choice, I had to be prepared for the ‘what if’.”

Eight years on, Mrs Howard’s family has certainly bounced back and in one way, defied the odds.

Mike is healthy and able to operate a successful dental practice and James is married and the father of a baby boy.

The family had been planning a fifth-year remission party for husband Mike’s survival when James, who was 14 at the time, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Nine months later cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and he had the tumour removed, followed by bouts of chemotherapy.

“There is nothing worse for a carer to watch their loved ones fight for their lives and there is nothing you can do about it,” Mrs Howard said.

“I take my hat off to all of the carers out there who have had to watch their loved ones suffer and have to go on the cancer journey with them.”

People who have a cancer survivor in their family are invited to celebrate their journey at a special survivors and carers afternoon tea on Saturday, October 20.

The afternoon tea is part of the opening of the 2018 Relay for Life at HBF Arena.

Register at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H6MBVYP .