Tattooed moms tackle cancer

Tight-knit group of Cloverdale women raise funds for breast cancer research

All of the Parabees except one (who couldn’t for medical reasons) tattooed a “pair of bees” on their feet.

By Kristine Salzmann

You’d be hard pressed to find a group of women as close-knit as the Parabees.

For at least two decades the nine Cloverdale moms have supported each other through good times and bad: weddings, deaths, children’s milestones, and, not least of all, breast cancer.

Two of the moms, Pat Dezall and Cathi Woodward, are breast cancer survivors.

Dezall discovered she had cancer in 2000 after a routine mammogram, and Woodward was diagnosed four years later.

It was supporting each other through cancer treatment that sparked the group name, one private joke among many.

The next logical step for such a tight group was to ask Carole Cochran’s graphic designer daughter to create a logo.

As a show of solidarity, eight of the women marched into Cloverdale’s Pro Pain Ink to have their “pair of bees” tattooed on their right feet (one could not get the tattoo for medical reasons).

The woman met when their now adult children attended Cloverdale Elementary. They would help run the school’s hot dog lunches, and that connection has since led to rituals such as their annual Academy Awards party and weekly Monday coffee nights (yes, every week).

When four of their sons turned 30, the women hosted a birthday fundraiser to raise money for the guys’ participation in The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.

“It’s an amazing sisterhood,” says Dezall of the friendship that includes Woodward, Cochran, Brenda Stowe, Cynthia Gibbs, Dawn Morrison, Holly George, Kerri McGowan, and Lori Townsend.

“They have done so much for me – mentally, emotionally – and we have fun.”

Eight years ago was the start of another tradition: participating in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s CIBC Run for the Cure in Vancouver.

The women don pink aprons, white T-shirts with their logo given to them by a donor, and pink Gerber daisies for the one or five kilometre walk/run event that this year takes place Sept. 30.

They raised money by sending out an annual plea for donations to friends and family via email, but last year the group decided to harness that Parabee energy and have some fun.

They hosted a pub night at The Tudor Ale House that raised more than $5,000 toward a final team total of $9,311.

“It was amazing, the support we got from the community,” Dezall says.

Donations to their silent auction included Helijet tickets, Vancouver Canucks tickets, and a guided Sturgeon fishing trip.

This year, they’re at it again. The fundraiser on Friday, Sept. 7 will once again be at The Tudor Ale House (187 Hwy. 15) and feature a silent auction, raffle, door prizes, and live music.

Tickets are $20 and include a beverage (alcoholic or non), beef or veggie burger and fries.

For tickets or to donate a prize, contact “bee keeper” Dezall at 604-328-5537 or “queen bee” Woodward at 604-532-8604.