‘Finished her journey here’

Published 9:01 pm Saturday, August 15, 2015

Robin Blanchard takes a momentary break on the golf cart from her duties at the 2010 Relay For Life. She died of cancer this week at the age of 47.

Robin Blanchard takes a momentary break on the golf cart from her duties at the 2010 Relay For Life. She died of cancer this week at the age of 47.

A Suffolk woman who spent a lot of energy helping others fight their battles with cancer through Relay For Life has died of cancer.

Robin Blanchard, who was a past co-chair of Suffolk’s Relay, died Thursday. Family members and friends say they will remember her because of how she was always caring for others, even after her own fight with cancer had begun.

“If she knew anybody needed anything, she was right there,” said her mother, Polly Riddick. “She was behind the scenes. She didn’t stand and hold hands and say, ‘What can I do?’ She looked around and saw what needed to be done and then did it and was gone.”

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“She’s always been a caregiver,” added her husband, Randell Blanchard. “If anybody was sick or there was a funeral, she would do what everybody has done for us,” he said, waving his hand at a spread of food in the family’s kitchen.

Robin first got involved with Relay through a team her mom had joined. She eventually took leadership positions and was co-chair in 2010.

Her drive to participate in Relay was partly a result of the loving, caring person she was but it also came from family experiences. Her father is a cancer survivor and now is fighting the disease again. Her maternal grandmother and her father-in-law both died of cancer.

“I think she always had a passion for helping other people and people who were sick,” said Daisy Perry, a family friend.

“She cared about a lot of people,” said Robin’s father, Emmitt Riddick. “She always had a cheerful smile.”

Robin worked at Dr. Peggy Chappell’s dentistry office and loved to see patients there, Randell said.

“She was definitely a therapist to a lot of her patients,” he said. “She was just an ear to talk to.”

The couple loved to travel, especially to beach locations, Randell said. They took several cruises to various Caribbean locations.

“She thoroughly enjoyed sunrises, sunsets and sand,” he said.

On Memorial Day 2014, she was engaging in another of her favorite pastimes — taking care of the yard — when she fell and thought she’d pulled a muscle. By October, though, the pain in her leg had gotten worse, not better. The diagnosis was renal cell carcinoma that had spread to her bones.

She found strength in her family and her faith, her mother said.

“‘This is God’s journey for me,’” her mother recalled her saying. “She finished her journey here.”

But even when she was sick, she still cared about others, her family said. She worried about her husband watching her get weaker, and — perhaps knowing she would die before her mother’s birthday, which was Friday — she got her mother a birthday gift and had a friend deliver it. It was a necklace with several charms inside representing memories they shared.

“That’s just an indication of how she thought,” Daisy Perry said. “She was doing things for others even when she was facing tough stuff of her own. That’s who she was.”

Besides her parents and husband, Blanchard left behind a brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Heidi Riddick, and nieces Bailey and Peyton Riddick. Her funeral will take place Sunday at 3 p.m. at Parr Funeral Home.