The Lyng Family

Wife of Brian, mother of Alana, Sharon and Breanne, and nurse with the local public health unit. She was caring, inspirational an example to be followed, and the life of the party.

There were many ways to describe Helen McKenna-Lyng, but a quitter was not one of them.

The Lyng family, from left: Sharon, Brian, Helen, Alana and Breanne.

Helen was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. She received chemotherapy and radiation at The Ottawa Hospital.

When the cancer returned in 2005, Helen had a single mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.

The cancer returned for the third time in 2009, spreading to her lungs. With the help of surgery by CyberKnife, chemotherapy and radiation, Helen lived for three more years after that, and passed away in November of 2011. She was only 55 years old.

“She kept going and fought until the very end. It was very inspirational,” said her daughter, Sharon Lyng.

“She battled cancer for 16 years and always had a smile on her face,” remembered Sharon. “She never let anyone worry about her, and never complained. People were happy whenever she was around.”

Helen was an example on how to live life, Sharon said.

Hundreds and hundreds of people must agree. Each year, the Lyng family organizes the popular Helen McKenna-Lyng memorial dance in Ashton – a tradition started when Helen was still alive. Every year, more than 800 people attend the dance, raising a cumulative $170,000 for diagnostic equipment at The Ottawa Hospital Breast Health Centre.

“It’s a day to remember our mom and a day to celebrate her life,” said Sharon. “But it’s not just about her. It’s also about all the other people in our community who have battled the disease.”

The ninth annual dance will be held on Saturday, May 24 from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. at 4001 Dwyer Hill Road at St. Clare’s Hall just past Richmond. Admission is $10 per person at the door. The dance features a cash bar, barbecue, late-night snacks and a raffle draw. Because all time and food is donated, all proceeds go to The Ottawa Hospital.