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Unsung Heroes - Years 1997 - 1999

The Unsung Hero/Heroes Awards are presented to those individuals who always work behind the scenes in any successful organization. They are also dedicated to UOAC, but do not seek the limelight. In fact – they prefer to do their work and give their support in an unobtrusive manner.

Helen Ball, Halton-Peel (Oakville) Chapter - (January, 1997)
Irma Tennisco, Oshawa Ontario Chapter - February, 1997
Gerry Mulcahy, Metro Halifax Chapter - (March, 1997)
Greg O'Hara, Saint John Chapter (April, 1997)
Mary Bigelow, Ostomy Toronto Chapter - (May, 1997)
Dianne Garde, Ostomy Toronto Chapter - (June, 1997)
Paul E. Meise, President, Okanagan Mainline Chapter - (September, 1997)
** Russell Adams, Truro Nova Scotia Chapter - (October, 1997)
** Mike Surette, President, Southwest (Yarmouth) Nova Scotia Chapter - (January, 1998)
Dorothy Skinner, Victoria, British Columbia Chapter - (May, 1998)
** Katja Dietz, RN ET - Saskatoon Chapter - (June, 1998)
Joan Williams - Vancouver Chapter - (September, 1998)
Agnes Parisloff - Regina Chapter - (May, 1999)
Helen Pries - Saskatoon Chapter - (June, 1999)
Barbara Guy - Calgary Chapter - June, 1999)
Bridget Peters - Cape Breton Nova Scotia Chapter - (June, 1999
Linda Warner - Edmonton Alberta Chapter - (June, 1999)
** Harold Cochrane - Ottawa Chapter - (September, 1999)
Betty Fouchard - Ottawa Chapter - (October, 1999)
Estelle Bennett - Ottawa Chapter - (November, 1999)

** Deceased


Helen Ball - Halton-Peel (Oakville) Chapter
We all have met hundreds of people over the course of our lives but relatively few become friends and go on to make a significant difference to us. Little did I know when I first met Helen in 1981 that she would end up playing an important part in my life. A meeting was called in my then hometown of Oakville to see if we could form an ostomy association. Helen was the first one through the door - she still is one of the first through the door.
Helen is a doer "a woman of action but always behind the scenes" not for her the limelight. You just can't imagine how much Helen has done for the Halton-Peel chapter over the years. When I took over our newsletter, Helen had just retired as a school secretary and I was still teaching. She used to come to my classroom at lunch time and we would collate, staple and stuff the pages of the newsletter into envelopes. Helen would then take them home to be mailed. I retired a couple of years ago as the editor but Helen soldiered on taking the newsletter to the printer and completing the mailing. Now we are back as a team again, and do you know, I just love it.
We have had some changes "we no longer collate" but we still staple and do the rest. Helen as a secretary was an accomplished secretary while I "hunt and peck". Many years ago now I talked Helen into at least trying my computer. "I left my job without knowing anything about the computer. I'm too old to learn." Well learn Helen did and for many years now, I give Helen the material and she inputs it. We correct together and I do the layout, but all that hard typing is Helen. She wasn't too old to learn and she is delighted to be able to talk knowledgeably to her grandchildren about the computer. In January of this year, I moved into north Toronto and now Helen has to drive Canada's busiest section of highway, the 401 across the city to get to me-but she does, competing with all the truck drivers!
Oh, no, this isn't by any means all that Helen does. She was the founding secretary of Halton-Peel and gave that up to be in charge of membership which she has been doing for more years than we both care to remember. She knows who hasn't paid dues and when there are difficulties arising. And she has remained on the Board for all the years that we have had a chapter. One of our favorite things we do together is visit new ostomates. Helen is a colostomate while I am an ileostomate but we make a great team. We know each other so well, we know how the other will handle questions. If you want anything done, ask Helen. You will remember that for World Ostomy Day, UOA of Canada was selling raffle tickets. We were looking for volunteers to sell them in the lobby of Mt. Sinai hospital. Yes - there was Helen with her friend Frances. Anything she can do to help the association, she will do.
However, she doesn't only work for UOA. Helen is an active volunteer in both her church and in the local Seniors group. She has recently retired as the Senior's secretary because she is so very busy. Her motto is: "Have something to do every day that will help others". She does have something she does for herself. She loves bridge and is still an active player.
Helen has been a widow for a number of years with two married daughters living in Oakville and a son in the States. I am most proud to have Helen as a friend. Wasn't it fortunate that she was the first person through the doors so many years ago. (Di Bracken, Co-Editor, Halton-Peel Chapter)

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Irma Tennisco - Oshawa Ontario Chapter
Irma had her ileostomy surgery in 1981 and shortly afterwards attended her first meeting, at which time I asked her to be Secretary. There was a definite need as I was President and had no Secretary. She accepted the challenge with grace, served until about 1988, then took over the position of President. During her tenure, Irma wrote many articles on ostomies for the local news to promote ostomy awareness among the community.
After her two year term as President, she served again as Secretary until about two years ago.
Over the years she and I have attended nearly every National and Regional Conference, sharing a room and having had some memorable times. Irma said one time, "Just think of all the nice people and friends I would never have met if I had not had ostomy surgery." She has gone with me to visit patients and give presentations to the nurses at Durham College, Nursing Homes and organizations. One of her main talents is being so articulate and gifted with good ideas to the benefit of the chapter.
She works part time at Sears but due to her husband's heart condition and being his main care giver, no longer holds an office. Irma is still a valued member and friend to us all.
A few years back, her husband Elroy brought their barbeque to the June picnic at Lakeview Park and did all the hot dogs and hamburgs. Indeed, it was a memorable picnic.
Irma has three sons, a daughter, grandchildren, all living nearby. Among her hobbies are gardening and bridge, and her flowers and garden are a picture to behold. Irma is also very active in her church.
(Blanche Alward, Membership Chairman)

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Gerry Mulcahy - Metro Halifax Chapter
Gerry had her surgery in 1956 and was the first proctocolectomy performed in the Halifax Infirmary. After suffering from ulcerative colitis for 12 years, Gerry said she knew the location of every bathroom from Halifax to Boston!
Little ostomy information was available at that time and was a shock when she received a rubber bag from the only supplier that looked like a long hot water bottle that hung half way down her leg, (she's 5' tall) held on with cement. This was very unsuitable and eventually caused her stoma to be flush. By chance, through a newspaper article, she learned of Mr. Irving Botvin of the Torbot Company in Rhode Island. Irving, an ostomate and a tool and die maker, started making discs and pouches in his basement. She went to Rhode Island where he made a special disc of deep convecity with a bar across the bottom and the top. The first year, she had to fly to Rhode Island three times for further fittings.
Gerry felt these considerable expenses should be deducted under the Income Tax Act. When they were rejected, she wrote personnally to the Minister of Finance explaining her situation. Her request was granted, ostomy expenses would be allowed, along with the travel to Rhode Island. Because of her action with Revenue Canada, 'ostomy prothesis' were added to income tax claims until the format changed allowing a blanket 3% medical expenses.
Before ostomy chapters came into being in Nova Scotia in 1972, her surgeon often requested Gerry visit patients throughout the province - which she did at her own expense.
When she learned of ostomy chapters being formed, would not entertain joining as she had had her surgery for many years, was comfortable with her Torbot appliance, in her own words, 'felt she knew everything'. Finally, in 1977, Gerry did come to a meeting. To her amazement she saw people whom she had no idea had an ostomy. Also, when she saw all the available appliances, decided that after all, 'she didn't know everything!'
Before long before Gerry was very involved with the chapter and totally committed. She has attended many UOA Annual and Regional Conferences at her own expense, but her main interest for some years has been as Coordinator of the Chapter Visiting Program. Her Visiting Seminars have attracted members from outlying chapter members as far away as Prince Edward Island. Gerry has never learned to say no to any chapter project and is always very willing to lend a helping hand.
Gerry is chapter representative on the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Center (amalgamation of the four Halifax hospitals) Volunteer Council and makes sure that the chapter's interests are well known. A busy volunteer at the QE II where she does patient feeding, fund raiser for the QE II Burn Unit and many special projects, the IWK/Grace Children's Hospital, and also very involved with her church. Figure skating is one of her main loves and was a volunteer at the World Figure Skating in Halifax and with Skate Canada in Halifax and Moncton.
Until she retired, Gerry was a Secretary at City Hall for the City of Halifax for many years. She often says, 'I'm glad now that I had my ostomy because I've made so many good friends that I otherwise would never have met and travelled to places that I could ever have imagined'.

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Greg O'Hara - Saint John Chapter
Greg O'Hara is a very special man, to whom we - the members of the Saint John Ostomy Chapter - owe a debt of gratitude, as Greg started our chapter.
Now ninety years old, Greg had his colostomy surgery in 1958. At the time he was married with one son and working for the C.P.R. He and his wife now have three grown children.
At the time, little information was available on ostomy care. His big problem was with excoriated skin and through trial and error, finally got relief by making a paste with Amphigel and Karaya Gum Powder. Someone then told him about plastic bags being available from Poly-Cello. He did have a rubber disc which he managed to stick to his skin with surgical cement, attaching the pouch to the disc with an elastic. This he wore until 1988 when he purchased his first colostomy pouch.
Greg worked for three years to start an ostomy group in the area. along with Dr. Creamer and Ruth Greene. Ruth later became the first ET in Saint John. Contacting UOA Inc, they were informed that at least six members were needed to form an association. In l966 they received their charter as a fully affiliated chapter with Greg serving as president from 1966 to 1968. Assisting this young group was the local Cancer Society who helped print their newsletter. Also, they received a small government grant and purchased a typewriter with some of the money.
Saint John New Brunswick Chapter was the first UOA chapter established within the four Atlantic Provinces.
Greg is still an active participant at every meeting, conference and dinner.
So, to Greg O'Hara, we say a special 'thank you' for being such an inspiration and encouragement to us all and we sincerely appreciate your tremendous efforts on our behalf. (Trina Davidson, Saint John Chapter)

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Mary Bigelow - Ostomy Toronto Chapter
As you read this, you will find Mary Bigelow to be a very special lady. Mary had her ileostomy on January 10, 1978 and due to many complications she was put on TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition). After spending 13 months in the hospital she was finally discharged.
Little did we know when Mary became a member of Ostomy Toronto in 1979 (then called the Ileostomy Association) what a "pot of gold " she would turn out to be For sure, no fool's gold!
In 1980 Mary joined the executive, serving as secretary and as it became apparent she had good computer skills, she became bulletin editor. Mary is still serving in these posts. In addition Mary served as president from 1984 to 1990.
Through all her health problems, her dedication to Ostomy Toronto and with family obligations, Mary still managed to hold down a full time job. She worked at Kellog's for 33 years. Until the chapter was able to purchase a computer, Mary would spend lunch hours and stay after work putting the bulletin together every month. At the same time Mary was also secretary for the TPN Association.
In October, 1993, Mary was faced with another major medical challenge when she was hit with the news she had lung cancer. On November 2, she had her left lung removed. Just like the old saying "pick yourself up and brush yourself off, start all over again" Mary hardly faltered. The bulletins were always ready to be mailed out on time.
When Mary's husband passed away suddenly, it was not her nature to feel sorry for herself. Once again she rose to the challenge, never letting Ostomy Toronto down.
Now you would think Mary might be ready to slow down, but she doesn't know the meaning of those words! She is busier than ever working on the bulletin, as we now do our own printing. Mary is spending many hours working in the office of UOA of Canada Inc. helping Les Kehoe to organize the office. To date Mary has put in over 140 hours working at the office voluntarily. If we were to go back to 1980, I wonder how many hours that would add up to!
Reading this you might think Mary was a very placid person, wrong! One thing Mary is not afraid to do is speak her mind. We have had some pretty lively executive meetings! I also know she has given a few doctors some words of wisdom. I would like to say on a personal note, Mary is a great inspiration to me and a "best friend" anyone could ever wish for. I think without doubt Mary Bigelow is a true "unsung hero".
Bravo Mary! (Dianne Morgan, Past President, Ostomy Toronto)

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Dianne Garde - Ostomy Toronto Chapter
In 1970 after several surgeries at an outlying hospital I was transferred to Toronto General Hospital in very bad shape. One of the first people whom I came in contact was the ET at the hospital, Dianne Garde. She would come into my room, grab my toe and try to make me feel better which was no easy task as I was a very bad patient. I was in the hospital for many months and over this period of time got to appreciate, and be very thankful for everything that Dianne did for me, as she went far beyond the call of duty.
Dianne had her initial ileostomy surgery in 1959. There was absolutely nobody around to help her, as she became the first ET in Ontario 10 years later in 1969, only the third ET in all of Canada. She took her training at the Cleveland Clinic, returned to Toronto and started working as Toronto General's first ET. She saw all comers at a Clinic in the hospital. A member of Ostomy Toronto said she called Dianne after her surgery in 1970, left a message and was startled when her call was returned immediately. She made an appointment where Dianne helped her change from the old rubber hot water bottle type appliance with belts, cement, etc., into a much lighter and easier to manage appliance. She returned home a whole new person from the help she had received and gives Dianne the credit for giving her a better quality of life.
Dianne worked at the hospital until 1992. She now does consultation work for Social Services and Nursing Homes and also at Starkman Surgical Supply, where her husband of 35 years, Jim, is General Manager.
She joined the Toronto Ileostomy Association and served as Secretary from 1962 until 1969, became the ET Adviser in 1970 and still holds that post. Dianne also joined the Toronto Colostomy Association when it formed in 1972 as she felt as an ET, it should be supported. She is also a member of other ostomy associations in the Greater Toronto Area. When both Associations amalgamated in 1982, Dianne was there to help us all the way and without her, is doubtful it could have been accomplished.
In 1990, Dianne was presented with the CAET President's Award for her services as an Enterostomal Therapist. She was also given an award by ConvaTec in 1992 for her outstanding contribution to Enterostomal Therapy.
Dianne was on the Planning Committee for the UOA Inc. Annual Conferences held in Toronto in 1975 and 1986 and chaired the Regional Conference in 1980. On the ET side of things she helped plan the International ET Conference in 1975, the CAET Conference in 1982 and the World ET Conference in 1990.
She and her husband Jim are very active members in their church and have two delightful granddaughters whom they both adore. Jim has been a most supportive partner for Dianne over the years and has always travelled with her to Ostomy and ET functions.
One of Dianne's hobbies is knitting and seldom without it. For UOA of Canada's 1996 World Ostomy Day celebrations held in Mount Sinai which she had organized, she knit two beautiful Aran sweaters for door prizes.
I want to state on behalf of Ostomy Toronto, without Dianne Garde there would be no association. She is at almost every meeting, is always ready to answer any questions and help anyone who needs her. I sincerely hope that we have Dianne around for a good many years to come.
(Mary Bigelow, Secretary, Ostomy Toronto)

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Paul E. Meise - Okanagan Mainline Chapter
I first met Paul in the spring of 1987, shortly after having my own ostomy surgery, when he spoke at a visitor training session in Prince George in his capacity as Provincial Rep. Since retiring to the Okanagan in 1989 I have come to know Paul and to appreciate those qualities which make him an "Unsung Hero".
Paul first ran into health problems when he was only 7 years of age, when he spent 9 months in hospital. In the next 3 years he was in and out of hospital on numerous occasions until in 1966 he was given a permanent urostomy (ileal conduit). This was early days for that type of surgery, and of course, no E.T.'s! so Paul, at the tender age of 11, was very much on his own when it came to learning to manage his ostomy. Learn he did, and conquered, and so back to school and a "normal" schoolboy life. He tells of "interesting" incidents when he moved up to senior school and started Phys.Ed. and using a communal shower!
He did not become involved with UOA until, in 1972 when the Okanagan chapter was formed, he became a member and attended his first meeting. Since then he has served in various capacities on the chapter executive, newsletter editor (82/83), President (84/85/86) and (95/96/97) , and has always been active in the chapters visiting program.
From 1986 to 1989 he served as the Provincial Representative for the North Western Region of UOA.
Paul was also a member of the initial planning committee for the development of the first Canadian Youth Ostomy Camp, and thereafter an active participant in the camp program from 1985 to 1994 as a counselor.
Paul's other community activities include 8 years on the board of the Kelowna Regatta (2 years as chairman), Chairman of the local chapter of the Canadian Red Cross (89/90), board member of the Chamber of Commerce and, currently, board member of the People in Motion Society and chairman of the Home Medical Equipment Dealers Association.
Paul has worked since school at several jobs including playing guitar in a band and being a DJ (in his younger years), but mostly in sales at several drug stores culminating in running the ostomy supplies department of a large retail pharmacy. In 1991 Paul established his own business in the medical supplies field, which he and his wife Carol operate very successfully.
Paul has been married 17 years and has two children. His hobbies include music, camping, canoeing and fishing (when he has time from his busy schedule!). He still harbors an ambition to become an RNET, but finds it difficult to break away from his busy life with the store and with raising a young family, to go back to college.
{Submitted by Leslie Davis, Newsletter Editor, Okanagan Mainline Chapter)

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Russell Adams - Truro Nova Scotia Chapter
I am a member of the Truro Ostomy Association where I met many wonderful people. One in particular I'd like to tell you about is Russell Adams. I'll never forget the first day I met Russell.
He was sitting at the end of a long table where the other executives were seated. When it came time for the Treasurer's report, Russell picked up his well-worn satchel and took out appropriate papers. Not until I heard his report and saw how organized he was with other contents (receipts, etc. ) did I realize how capable this man with the well worn old satchel could be. I later learned that Russell had joined the group in 1982 soon after undergoing colostomy surgery and shortly after was asked to be its Treasurer. Since he had some knowledge of bookkeeping and finances after doing the same in the army, he accepted the position for a term. To this day, Russell is still Treasurer of our group. When asked about some financial statement, no matter how back it goes, he will dig into his trusty satchel and come up with it on the spot.
Russell served overseas during the Second World War and was a member of the West Nova Scotia Regiment. Returning to 'civvy' street, Russell's employment took him from being a stationary engineer, to head of a construction crew and then his own lime supply business before retirment.
He can be seen helping out on Ostomy Day and every fundraiser for our group whether it be a bake sale at the Mall or an early morning in a cold arena taking his turn at a Garage Sale. He and his loving wife of 21 years, Emmeline, have donated Christmas cakes for fund raisers to the Truro Chapter for many years. Russell and Emmeline have travelled to other chapters where they enjoy meeting and joining other people with ostomies.
In his spare time, Russell loves to garden. He has been in failing health for a year now but insists on staying involved with the group. He is very excited about our chapter being a part of the newly formed United Ostomy Association of Canada Inc. He took it upon himself to do the chapter listings for the UOA of Canada Inc - can you just imagine all the phone calls he had to make to check out the correct addresses, etc. An undertaking to say the least was no small task.
I am proud and fortunate to know such a dedicated and fine person. (Respectfully submitted, Bernice MacPherson, Truro Chapter member.)
(Russell Adams passed away in March, 1998)

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Mike Surette - Southwest (Yarmouth) Nova Scotia Chapter
Besides his work with the local chapter, Mike has been involved with numerous organizations for many years - almost more than he can remember.
Mike was born on a small (3 x 4 miles) island off the coast from Yarmouth. Surette's Island, where Mike grew up had a vibrant French community, and although fluently bilingual, his first language is, of course, French.
After serving in WW II for five years, most of the time spent as a Wireless Air Gunner for Bomber Command, he returned to Nova Scotia. Because of his radio experience, became a radio operator with Transport Canada and was with them for 33 years. Much of the time was spent in the Light Ship off Yarmouth and icebreaking up north. He did make two special northern tours, one through the Hudson Strait and the other in the Northwest Territories off Resolution Island. In 1981 he took his retirement so he could spend time with his favourite hobbies, golf, fishing and volunteering.
Mike is on the Board of the V.O.N., Past President of the Legion Branch in Wedgeport, Past District Governor of the Lion's Club and has been a member for 46 years, and still very involved with these groups.
His colostomy was performed in September, 1982 and within the year, joined the local chapter. He was elected President in 1985 and has continued in that position except for a break of 3-1/2 years.
With an active chapter visiting program, Mike works closely with the Visiting Chair Annette Weidenfeld promoting the program within the local medical system. Whenever there is an ostomy event being promoted by a local chapter within driving distance, Mike is sure to be there.
Mike and his wife Irene, married 45 years with a grown daughter and grandchildren living in the area, is his biggest supporter within the ostomy family.
(Mike Surette passed away on November 7, 1998 after a long and courageous battle with cancer)

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Dorothy Skinner - Victoria, British Columbia Chapter
Dorothy Skinner was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba (as Dorothy Burford) in a secret year. After finishing school in Manitoba, she found employment with the Government in the Department of Vital Statistics.
When World War II came along, Dorothy enlisted in the CWAC's (Canadian Women's Army Corps) serving as Secretary to the Officer Commanding, Royal Canadian Dental Corps and in Army Accounting.
In 1948, after marrying Patrick Skinner, they moved to Victoria in search of a better lifestyle. They started their own letter service business called Holland's Letter service, later Adamio/Skinner. It was in this field that Dorothy learned the printing and publishing skills that are with her to this day.
Following ileostomy surgery in December 1976, she joined the Victoria Chapter, and shortly after took on the duties as Secretary. This was quickly followed by offering to look after the printing of the monthly newsletter. She still provides the chapter with printed raffle tickets, Christmas luncheon tickets and the miscellaneous printing jobs that every chapter encounters. She is renowned for her promptness and professional accuracy.
Thanks to her charm and winsome personality, she has been able to recruit a non UOA couple to help her with stapling, folding and stuffing our five-page newsletter for each issue.
Now widowed, Dorothy shares her home with a furry bundle of energy in a small but vocal package called "Jackman" and are great pals. She and Patrick had two boys, Jim and Robert, the latter now living in England.
We in the Victoria chapter feel particularly favoured to have Dorothy with her printing expertise. She is the busiest person at every meeting in her capacity as Tea Hostess, keeping her ever-changing assistants on the job.
Our gratitude to her and her quiet but enthusiastic participation in the affairs of the chapter over such a long period make us realize that not all Hall of Famers are internationally known but live right beside us, not seeking recognition, but as worthy as any star of sport or entertainment.
She is a jewel of great value.(Jay Fox,Editor, Island Ostomy News, Victoria Chapter)

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Katja Dietz, RN ET - Saskatoon Chapter
There is very little in enterostomal therapy Katja Dietz has not either pioneered or promoted in her long and extremely successful nursing career.
Katja was named Saskatoon's Citizen of the Year in 1983, but to her patients and friends Katja is the citizen of a lifetime for her help, encouragement and loving care.
With the encouragement of Dr. Fred Inglis, Katja, in 1974, undertook Enterostomal Therapist training in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. On her return, Katja worked very closely with cancer patients and other ostomy patients, and her care often extended to anxious spouses. Katja maintains close contact with many of her early patients, some of whom attended the first meeting of the Saskatoon Ostomy Association with Katja.
Katja found a friend and ally in Norm Faulkner of Nordon Drugs. With Norm's assistance and the cooperation of the major manufacturers of ostomy supplies, Katja travelled in much of central and northern Saskatchewan with a suitcase filled with whatever she thought might help a patient. The driver on many of these trips: her ever supportive husband, Edward.
When asked what was most important to her career as an E.T., Katja replies, "Visitation was the backbone. And Norm Faulkner."Katja retired from nursing in 1985 but has remained an active supporter of the Ostomy Association, continuing to coordinate the visitation program despite recent health problems. Typically, a message from Katja on your answering machine requesting assistance with a visit, ends with the same cheery closing: "Have a sunny day." How appropriate from a woman who has brought sunshine to ostomates for almost 25 years.
An added note: Katja and Edward came to Canada in 1954 and subsequently had a son and now also enjoy their grandson. Katja is still recovering from quite a serious bout of congestive heart trouble although she insists on continuing as our Visitation Chairperson. (Trish McCormick, Vice President & Editor, Saskatoon Chapter)
(Katja Dietz passed away on 11 October, 2002)

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Joan Williams - Vancouver Chapter
Joan Williams of Vancouver, desperately ill with ulcerative colitis, received an ileostomy in January 0f 1972, before there were any E.T.'s in the city. The Vancouver chapter of UOA supplied a visitor to Joan in hospital, and also helpful literature. Having been relieved of the diseased tissue in her body, Joan recovered quickly, and adapted easily to life with an ostomy. It became just a minor nuisance to her. Like many ostomates, she has never had an attitude of "Why me?" or "Poor me!", but rather "Lucky me, I've had a new chance at life."
Having received important help from the Vancouver chapter, Joan felt she wanted to repay this very worthwhile organization by helping out in any way she could to assist future ostomates. Quite shy and diffident at that time, she tended to avoid the limelight. Although she never went beyond the chapter level, she has served the Vancouver chapter in many ways during the past 26 years.
At first she helped out with refreshments at the monthly meetings, then later managed the chapter's library of ostomy literature for many years. She edited the chapter newsletter for a short time when nobody else would do so. Joan has been a frequent and effective visitor, and acted as visiting coordinator for several years. She was one of a team, and later led the team of three ostomates, who regularly were invited to speak to classes at local nursing schools to describe what it is like to live with an ostomy, and answer the many questions from nursing students.
At the successful 1980 UOA Conference in Vancouver, Joan co-chaired the Hospitality Committee. She has also represented the chapter at ten national conferences and numerous other provincial, regional and other conferences, most often at her own expense. She has organized several of the chapter's Christmas parties, has frequently acted as the the chapter secretary, and has always been available to fill in wherever help was needed. Joan is indeed an Unsung Hero!

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Agnes Parisloff - Regina Chapter
Agnes has been involved with the Regina Ostomy Association for nineteen years. Her fellow members describe her as very giving of her time and talents; she's very generous and she's very committed to helping others, especially those who can't help themselves. This care and concern is demonstrated not only through the Ostomy Association but the many other volunteer organizations she is involved with including the Catholic Women's League, Canadian Diabetes Association and Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Agnes has held many positions within the Regina Ostomy Association and is currently co-president. She is also a committed visitor for the chapter as she remembers the impact her visitor had on her prior to surgery.

Agnes was recently named Woman of the Year by the Regina Queen City Kinettes. The award recognizes women that make a contribution in a volunteer capacity to enhance the lives of a member or organization of the special needs community or the special needs community as a whole.

Congratulations from all of us Agnes!

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Helen Pries - Saskatoon Saskatchewan Chapter
Helen was born in Ukraine and immigrated to Canada via South America with her grandmother, parents and six brothers and sisters, arriving in Saskatoon in 1953. Here Helen met and married Jake Pries, a young man who had attended the same school in Ukraine when Helen was still there. Helen and Jake settled down to married life and raising three sons. In 1979 Helen was diagnosed with cancer and underwent urostomy surgery. Three weeks after surgery she took on membership for the Saskatoon Ostomy Association, a position she held for almost twenty years. Helen also chaired the Friendship and Social Committee over the years. A frequent visitor for our association Helen loves to show people life can be great after cancer and ostomy surgery. Local urologists often call Helen to arrange pre-surgical "chats" with anxious patients.

Helen is a living example of a full life. She continues to love gardening, camping and anything out of doors. She also loves to cook, crochet and sew. She and Jake travel frequently from Ontario to B.C. to visit their 8 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Currently they are planning a 96th birthday for Helen's mother and looking forward to yet another great grandchild. Helen's hard work and dedication to the Saskatoon Ostomy Association has been remarkable. When told we were nominating her for an Unsung Hero Award her response was characteristic of her:"Everyone is a hero."

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Barbara Guy - Calgary Alberta Chapter
Barbara Guy had ostomy surgery in December of 1984. She attended her first meeting with the Calgary Ostomy Society in February 1985 and has been a member and hard worker ever since. Come rain or shine Barbara is always in attendance at the monthly meeting ready with coffee, juice and lots of baked goodies. Most of the time she does the baking herself and brings it to the meeting without being asked. She never asks for compensation or help to lighten the load just continues to do the job that provides comfort and a social atmosphere for all who attend. We all count on her to provide the service she has been volunteering for for more than 10 years.

In addition to the job of coffee attendant she has held the position of vice-president and corresponding secretary within the chapter. She has also been an active visitor in all the hospitals in Calgary and can always be counted on to visit a person in need.

Outside the ostomy community Barbara has been a volunteer in the Calgary community for a number of years as well. She volunteers with the Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured for six years. She was a valued Zone Captain and avid canvasser for the Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke Foundation and Salvation Army just to mention a few.

Its hard working people like Barbara who do their job without hesitation, complaint and with a smile that make a chapter functional and successful. All of us in the Calgary chapter value her contribution and are very proud of her. Thank you Barbara!

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Bridget Peters - Cape Breton Nova Scotia Chapter
Bridget had ileostomy surgery October of 1983 and has been an active member of the Cape Breton Nova Scotia Chapter (New Waterford, N.S.) since January, 1984. She immediately became actively involved in chapter activities as a member of the Tenth Anniversary Committee formed to set up activities for the celebration in June, 1985. From then on she continued to work for the chapter and participate in every activity taken on by the chapter.

Bridget was president of the CBNS Chapter from 1988-1992. In 1992 she became treasurer and still holds this office as there is no one ready to fill the shoes of such a capable treasurer. She has been on the Board of Directors of CBNS Chapter since 1987. At present she is a committee member for CBNS's twenty-fifth anniversary in 2000.

Besides holding an executive position, Bridget has been a certified visitor and attended all training sessions held in the Cape Breton area. She is a member of the committee for the local World Ostomy Day program and the Annual Ostomy Awareness Day of CBNS Chapter held annually in November. There has not been an activity held by the CBNS Chapter that Bridget has not played a major part. As a fifteen year member, she has not missed more than five chapter meetings. In 1986, Bridget was a delegate at the UOA conference in Toronto. This first time exposure at the national level of UOA activities was a great inspiration for Bridget to continue her work at the chapter level. Since than, she has attended 8 conferences as a delegate. She attended the IOA Conference in Calgary as well as several regional conferences in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New York state.

Besides her work with CBNS Chapter, she is an involved community member. At present, she is on a committee for a 50' s and 60's high school reunion in 2000. She still finds time for her line dancing and skating.

With all this on her agenda, her number one priority is her family, husband Charlie, children Michael and Shelley and five grandchildren. She can be seen at the rink in winter, ball field in summer, and at school activities following three of her grandchildren in New Waterford or travelling to Shilo, Manitoba to visit her other 2 grandchildren. Bridget is certainly our unsung hero!

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LInda Warner - Edmonton Alberta Chapter
Linda celebrates 18 1/2 years of living with an ostomy. She says her life moves at a faster pace than when she suffered nine long years with ulcerative colitis. Her ileostomy surgery came sudden after a battle with Toxic Mega Colon.

Linda is a born and raised Edmontonian. For the past 21 years, Linda has been married to Mel Warner. They have one daughter, Hillary who has just entered the field of Emergency Medical Services.

Linda has been a member of the Edmonton chapter for almost as long as she has been an ostomate. She has held positions such as publicity, newsletter, vice-president and president. She was instrumental in introducing the chapters' major fund raiser, The Blind Auction, held every Christmas. She also led the campaign for introducing paid advertising in their newsletter, as well as selling the Entertainment Books. Linda has chaired and co-chaired the last two World Ostomy Days in Edmonton. She holds the executive position of secretary for the upcoming year and will co-chair the upcoming WOD '99 in October.

Linda is in charge of registrations for the upcoming conference. She is also leading the session on First Timers at the conference. Linda is a very hard worker for the Edmonton chapter of UOA. Her motto is: "Look at life as a series of miracles unfolding."

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Harold Cochrane - Ottawa Chapter
Harold Cochrane is a Director and the Hospitality Chair for the United Ostomy Support Group, Ottawa. He spent the Second World War years in the Canadian Air Force in England and Holland, taking part in its liberation. He and his wife, Betty, have recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their daughter, Lynn, a psychiatric nurse. Civilian life found Harold working for Defence Research Board as Chief Purchasing Officer and travelling extensively. He retired early.

Harold has undergone eighteen operations which began when he was 38 with a benign growth which was blocking his bladder and progressed to an urostomy in 1990. Harold's skin was a problem right from the first and leakage a daily occurrence. However, with typical self-effacing patience, he persevered through reparative surgeries until a stubborn hernia and repeated blockages forced him to choose an internal pouch in January, 1998. He valve failed and leg bags, dressings and catheters which have to be drained every 2-3 hours became necessary. Because of recurrent infections, Harold must take maintenance antibiotics. A permanent catheter was placed in January of this year and more surgery to once more try to repair the valve took place in May.

One would think that all of these trials would have produced a bitter man. Not on your life. Harold's patience, kindness and courage are an inspiration to all who know him. And despite so much illness, he has found time to be a 'Meals-on-Wheels' volunteer for twenty years. He joined UOSG immediately after ostomy surgery and despite many illnesses, has been a very active visitor, has taken part in three health fairs and many booths for selling raffle tickets; takes part in all fund-raising events; attended UOA of Canada's Inaugural Conference and also the Conference in Edmonton. Through all of this, Betty has been a tower of strength.

When asked what he thought about a urostomy, Harold said, "Urostomy's are a blessing for almost everyone. I was just unlucky. The next operation should do the trick." A true Unsung Hero!

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Betty Fouchard - Ottawa Chapter
Betty Fouchard is one of those quiet ladies who work tirelessly in the background of many organizations, getting little notice and asking for none.

Born near Windsor on the Thames, England, Betty worked for three years during the Second World War for Fighter Command in the Operations room of the aerodrome at Beacon Hill, England. She plotted from radar to help R.A.F. fighters. She came to Canada in 1946 as a British war bride.

Betty has been an exceptionally active member of United Ostomy Support Group, Ottawa, Inc. for more than 20 years. Though not an ostomate herself, she has joined her husband, George (another active member), in making ostomates well-being a priority in her life.

Besides raising four children and overseeing the happiness of 14 grandchildren, Betty has found time to act as Membership Chair for 17 years and still occupies that position. She attended the Halifax Conference and helped in setting up the first Pembroke Satellite. She has also helped George as Assistant Treasurer. When money was to be raised, Betty was there with her wonderful crafts, i.e., satin swans and beautiful dolls. She took part also in the painstaking task of building and raffling two completely furnished and peopled Victorian dollhouses. Everyone know that, if there is a fund-raising event, Betty will help and contribute.

As Social Convenor, Betty has acted as hostess, opening her home to our membership for the annual picnic on many, many occasions. Look in the kitchen at the general meetings or the Christmas party, and Betty is there quietly making things work. Never any fuss, just efficiency and kindness. Newsletter assembly and mailing have been done just as anonymously and well for 12 years with personal delivery to hospitals. If we need a volunteer driver or an information book worker, Betty is there.

Betty is the stuff of which unsung heroes are made.


Estelle Bennett - Ottawa Chapter
Born in London, England, Estelle came to Montreal, Canada in 1966. She moved to Ottawa after a year and opened a florist shop in 1984. Estelle also worked as a Brownie leader.

She had her ileostomy surgery in 1991 and quickly became a member of United Ostomy Support Group, Ottawa, Inc. after talking with a Visitor. She has repaid that Visitor's help a hundredfold.

Estelle began in the kitchen at meetings like many others, not suspecting that she was being secretly groomed for more responsibility. Social Convenor came first, then Librarian and Vice President, six-year Director of U.O.S.G., and member of U.O.A.C. Visiting Committee, and finally Acting President, all done well. But where Estelle really shines is in her empathy with the new or soon-to-be ostomate, her sensitivity to their feelings and her genuine concern for them as human beings. As Visiting Coordinator for four years, she has found her niche, and on the hotline, she has helped many, many unhappy and sometimes desperate people with her wisdom and that soothing British voice. Estelle is everybody's mother and confidante.

A talented poet, Estelle has contributed to the Ottawa Ostomy News and Ostomy Quarterly. She is always available to man information booths, for fund-raising events, picnics, parties, raffles and has represented U.O.S.G. as speaker both at Riverside Hospital and Algonquin College. She attended U.O.A.C.'s Inaugural Conference and led the Ottawa Chapter Visitor Training Sessions on two occasions. Her husband, Les, and daughter, Janice, can attest to the fact that she is good at finding volunteers for many jobs.

In Estelle's words, "I feel that if you help only one ostomate at each general meeting or on the hotline, you and the organization are a success. No one wants to have ostomy surgery, but because of my ileostomy, I have met many wonderful people who have become friends." A true unsung hero.

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