Tracy Owen-Best with her husband, Larry Best. Tracy runs both the Nechako Barbershop and Hair Essentials Salon in Kitimat. Diagnosed with cancer in March 2020, she’s kept a positive mindset with the help from a supportive family. (Photo supplied)

Tracy Owen-Best with her husband, Larry Best. Tracy runs both the Nechako Barbershop and Hair Essentials Salon in Kitimat. Diagnosed with cancer in March 2020, she’s kept a positive mindset with the help from a supportive family. (Photo supplied)

In Our Valley: Tracy Owen-Best

Barbershop owner and cancer fighter keeps it positive

When life hands you highs and lows, Tracy Owen-Best is a prime example of staying positive throughout the worst of times.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2020, Tracy keeps a smile on her face and stays mentally strong throughout her trying times.

“Don’t get me wrong I’ve had my bad days a couple of times but I think I’ve only cried twice,” said Owen-Best.

Born in Vancouver, Tracy moved here at the young age of two when her dad got a job at Alcan in 1963.

She has four kids, two sisters and a brother who were all raised in Kitimat as well.

Growing up in small-town B.C., Tracy talked about how grateful she is to be raised in the ‘golden era’ for youth outdoor activities.

“We had neighbourhood kids that we always hung out with and played all the old-school games like red rover, hide and seek, softball, building forts, and all that fun kid stuff,” said Owen-Best. “My mom would send us out even when it was raining and would tell us to go to Kildala School and play underneath [the covered play areas] if we thought we were going to melt.”

While working at Shoppers Drug Mart as a merchandiser, Tracy started her first business venture in 1997 when she took over her first hair salon known as Hair Flair and sold it in 2006.

She currently runs Hair Essentials and Nechako Barbershop and has owned them since 1999.

Always having a love for the behind-the-scenes work, Tracy kept all three shops running for seven years.

“I loved all my jobs but I really enjoy doing the business end of things for the salons, […] I run the nitty-gritty; if they have a problem they’ll call me and I’ll deal with it and make the calls that I need to make.”

When Tracy found out about her breast cancer last year, she says she’s kept a positive mentality through these challenging times of her life.

She started chemotherapy treatment in May last year for 20 weeks until September.

After chemo, she underwent major surgery.

Resting for four weeks after her operation, Tracy stayed at her sister’s place for five weeks in Victoria where she received 16 radiation treatments to help rid her system of cancer cells.

Now back to enduring chemo treatments every three weeks, until October, her energy levels are sporadic, however, things seem to be getting better for her.

“My main part [of the cancer] is done and now I’m only doing this chemo treatment in hopes to never get breast cancer again.”

Tracy opened up about the importance of surrounding herself in a supportive community of people who have the drive to stay optimistic regardless of her situation.

“You have to be positive and you need that positivity around you. So I’m always telling people when they’re around me, don’t you dare cry, I want nothing but good thoughts and positivity all around me: and it’s working!”

She also emphasized how lucky she’s been to have such a supportive family and friends around her during these times and discussed the importance of being open with her family about her sickness.

“If I didn’t have my kids constantly calling me or a wonderful husband at my side, I don’t know if I could’ve dealt with it on my own.”

Tracy went on to talk about the community and how easy it’s been to surround herself with the positive vibrations everyone brings.

“This is what it’s all about, this whole town is like a family. You can’t go anywhere without somebody saying hello or smiling at you.”

With many peaks and valleys in Tracy’s life, she wants to remind people how important it is to not take life for granted and to love everyone around you.

“They could be here one day and gone the next, […] life is just too short, everyone has their falling outs but family is family and they’re not going away. Just like friends, sure you can be upset with them one day but it’s important to figure it out and talk it through.”

Being the strong business owner she is, Tracy continues to run the Nechako Barbershop and Hair Essentials while battling breast cancer. She hopes that others can learn from her radiating positivity and motivation to keep moving forward.

“Every day is a new day that I wake up and think to myself I’m breathing, I’m living, OK, let’s go!”

READ MORE: In Our Valley – Tanner McAloney

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