Fear and its relative cousins – worry, distress, and anxiety – are bigger than any giant you will ever face. Fear is brutal. However, Tanya Lafontaine knew there is something more powerful than fear. And cancer.
The Posture of Fear
When your brain gets hold of one fearful thought and runs with it, you see an instant future of only doom, gloom and disaster.
Position your body in the stance of anxiety.
Most people hunch their shoulders forward, fold their arms across their chests and assume a contracted position to cover their heart. This is the posture of fear.
When you are fearful it’s impossible to feel love.
The Posture of Love
Tanya Lafontaine had a different posture. Being a devoted, single mom to a 10-year old son did that for her. You would never know by her stance that she was facing a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis where the survival stats were not in her favor.
Jocelyn and I were introduced to Tanya through a feature article in the St Albert Gazette in 2019. Her gritty determination impressed us so much that we reached out to her via social media and formed a bond.
The 45-year-old mother was been in the fight of her life since August 2017. Sitting on her couch and listening to her remarkable story convinced us that the positive sayings adorning the walls of her home were embedded in the core of her spirit.
She tenaciously, trusted God for her future.
Defying the odds
One year after her first cancer diagnosis doctors discovered a tumor growing on Tanya’s brain stem. She needed life-saving surgery. Initially, no one wanted to take on the complicated surgery. Then the father of Olympic triathlete – Paula Findlay – stepped up, and on May 5, 2018 – a day before her son turned nine – Lafontaine underwent a craniotomy to remove a hemangioblastoma caused by her cancer treatments.
She was transferred to the Glenrose Brain Injury Nursing and Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton where she learned how to walk and speak again. At her discharge conference her doctors were astounded. “We don’t even have a form for this,” they told her, “we just have to make one up.” Professionals were sure she would be going home with a walker or wheelchair, but once again she defied the odds.
Friends, Faith and Kindness
Tanya missed her cardio and barbell workouts and teaching 22-28 classes a month at the World Health gym. Exercise endorphins were her drugs. While she optimistically looked forward to an eight-hour day of exercise on a coming Saturday, just getting up in the morning took most of the energy for her day. But she was grateful for new friends and unexpected kindnesses.
We rallied men from North Pointe Church to repair her home and her car. One couple introduced Tanya to Jesus and led her to faith in him as her Saviour. She told us, “I read my Bible everyday and hold on to Jesus through prayer.”
Three Smooth Stones
Love colors everything Tanya did.
Love for her son, for her friends from the World Health gym and from North Pointe Church and for life itself. She knew the facts about her health but was ever hopeful of miracles in many forms.
Tanya faced relational and health trauma that would overwhelm the strongest of us but she never gave in or gave up.
Love, hope and tenacity – three smooth stones that brought down her Goliath of fear.
UPDATE: Tanya Lafontaine passed away on January 18, 2020. She was surrounded by people who loved her. Her battle over, when she breathed her last on earth, she tasted her first breath of heavenly air.
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Thanks Tanya for being an inspiration for me too.
Tanya, I haven’t the words to express my heart, mind and sense of your walk with the Lord. Strength, peace and love exudes from you life. You are precious to others. Most profoundly you are precious to the Lord Jesus.
Tanya was a very special person that had hope all the way til the end. She fought to stay with us, but in the end the pain was too much and she succumbed peacefully knowing her son was being well cared for. Her date of passing was Friday, January 17 at 12:55 pm.