Jody Armstrong could feel the energy in the room — palpable waves of emotion emanating from the 400 or so gathered for the 2014 Nite of Hope Richmond Gala last Tuesday night.
Oddly enough, it helped calm her nerves as she prepared to share with the audience at the River Rock Show Theatre a story about her mother, Carleen, who at 51 passed away from cancer in September 2009.
“There was such a positive community of people there, and I knew this was an event that my mom loved to go to with her girlfriends,” said Armstrong.
“I was nervous when I was originally asked to speak — I’m not used to public speaking. But I felt right at home once I was out there,” she said.
Armstrong’s mother was honoured at the 2010 Nite of Hope, and now Jody is continuing her tradition and joined last year as a committee member, volunteering her time to the cause.
“I just wanted somewhere to focus my appreciation, honour my mom and do something good,” Armstrong said.
“I don’t want breast cancer. And there really wasn’t a better place to go. Plus, my mom was one of Richmond’s biggest volunteers,” added Armstrong.
“She volunteered for everything. If a committee didn’t exist, she created it,” Armstrong said.
“For example, she started dry grad at Steveston secondary school. She was always the chair of parent advisory committees. So, I am hoping to carry on her legacy,” said Armstrong.
One of the other aspects Armstrong is continuing is her mom’s decision to view the positive aspects in life.
“She always spoke of the silver linings, looking at the good of what comes out of something so terrible like cancer,” Armstrong said, adding it was the relationships her mom focused more intently on as her illness progressed.
“It’s then that you see who is there and the lengths they go to help you out,” Armstrong said, recalling the almost constant stream of people dropping by the family home to bring home-cooked meals, or just spend time chatting with her mom.
“My mom showed me this was an opportunity to celebrate the little things in life and value relationship time.”
This year’s Nite of Hope fundraiser is dedicated to installing a second digital mammography unit at Richmond Hospital to better diagnose breast cancer.
The hospital screens about 15,000 patients annually.