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Kelowna girl runs Terry Fox Run on same day her mother passes away from cancer

On Friday, Sept. 22, six-year-old Berlyn White was one of millions of Canadian children to participate in the annual Terry Fox Run.

Later that day, her mother passed away after a brave and lengthy battle with cancer.

<who>Photo Credit: Contributed</who>Lisa and Berlyn

Lisa Oehler, known affectionately as Skip, was first diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in 2019, but went into remission after successful radiation and chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, her cancer returned in 2021 and the outcome was not as positive, which forced husband Dave White to leave the workforce and be the full-time caregiver for Berlyn, who was five years old at the time.

“I had to stay at home at this point,” Dave told KelownaNow. “I was doing drills before this with my daughter on what neighbors to go get help from if mom couldn't wake.”

As Lisa began more chemo, she ran into further medical complications like multiple bouts with pneumonia that had Dave having to prepare their young daughter for the worst.

“We didn’t think she would make it,” he explained, noting that having to tell Berlyn that her mom could potentially die was “horrible.”

<who>Photo Credit: Contributed</who>Dave and Berlyn

Despite everything she faced, Lisa kept fighting and surviving, and the Whites found a medical trial in Toronto that they tried to get Lisa into.

Unfortunately, on Thursday, Sept. 21, the trial called and said Lisa wasn’t a candidate as she had contracted pneumonia once again.

The next day, Berlyn, unaware of just how sick Lisa was, went to school and participated in the Terry Fox Run.

Dave picked her up from school at 2:30 pm and took her home to say goodbye to her mother, who passed away at 4:15 pm.

Lisa, a local artist and one of the original members of the Meraloma Women’s Rugby Team, is being remembered as “a powerhouse on the field and an awesome friend and human off the field.”

"She was truly one of the most unique, loving and coolest woman I have ever known," wrote Nicole Pasquino, who created a GoFundMe to support Dave and Berlyn as they navigate this incredible loss.

The GoFundMe has raised nearly $7,000 as of Oct. 3. To donate, click this link.

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