Unsung Heroes (2010-present)

Unsung Heroes (2010-present)

Irene SuretteSouth West Nova ScotiaFebruary 2010
Alfred ThébeauMoncton ChapterNovember 2010
Joan MancinelliRegina ChapterJanuary 2011
Lorette ComeauSouth West Nova Scotia Ostomy ChapterFebruary 2011
Alyson WalshHalifax ChapterFebruary 2011
Robert WychersOstomy TorontoApril 2012
Sharon and Gerald SheenCalgary Ostomy SocietyJune 2012
Joan PeddleMoncton ChapterJanuary 2013
Irene StaggHalifax ChapterApril 2016
Helmet FriesenWinnipeg ChapterMay 2016
John McCormickOstomy Newfoundland and Labrador ChapterJanuary 2017
Emery Fanjoy Halifax Ostomy Society June 2017
** Deceased


Irene Surette – South West Nova Scotia Ostomy Chapter (February 2010) 

Irene Surette is a significant other. Her husband, Mike, passed away several years ago, and since then she has remained a member of the South West Nova Scotia Ostomy chapter.

At every promotion, at every fund-raiser, at every meeting and at every function, Irene is present. There is never a gathering for which she doesn't bake.  There is never a new member that she doesn't support in her own special way. Irene's pleasant manner, the twinkle in her eye, and her kind personality are assets to each and every member that comes our way. For our chapter to sing a tune for Irene is both enjoyable and rewarding.

Her husband, Mike, was President of our Chapter for 10 years and during those years Irene supported her husband's responsibilities. She was also loyal to him with his health, surgery and living with an ostomy. Irene was always at his side at functions, meetings and fundraisers. Once again, behind every good man stands a good woman and, in this case, it was, and still is, an attractive lady known as Irene.

Irene is a volunteer at the Yarmouth Food Bank, a member of the Yarmouth Garden Club, a member of the Lionettes and a fund raising chairperson of our chapter. She is very active in her own personal life such as shopping, cleaning, baking, gardening and sharing time with a very close friend who is very supportive to her and her interests. Irene has collected and packed supplies for third world countries for many years, and still assists.



Alfred Thébeau – Moncton Chapter

Alfred Thébeau received a colostomy 19 years ago due to cancer. He has been married to Marie Celine for 43 years and has two children and three grandchildren. He is now retired, having worked for nine years as a mechanic, 10 as a Service Manager and 16 as a truck salesman, all with the same company,

Alfred was Moncton chapter president twice. The first time was for 4 ½ years and the 2nd for four years (2006-2010). Prior to being president, he was in charge of getting guest speakers for the meetings. He was co-chair of the annual UOAC conference in 2006 in Moncton. He worked very hard, along with his co-chair Minerva Holton, by getting speakers, doing fundraising and any other things that needed to be done. During the conference, Alfred ensured everything went smoothly. For the four days of the conference, Alfred and Marie Celine were available almost 24 hours a day.

Alfred is a certified visitor as well as a member of the telephone committee. He participates in any fundraising the chapter organizes. He has also attended a number of conferences. He says that he always learns something new during conferences and has made many new friends.

Alfred is a charter member, and now a life member, of the Irishtown Lions Club. He served as President, Secretary and visitation chairman of the Lions Club. He was also involved in the committee to build the Irishtown Community Centre in conjunction with the Lions Club. In 1990, he received the Melvin Jones Fellow Award given for Dedicated Humanitarian Services. At present, he is a member and treasurer of the Saint Antoine Gun Club.

During his spare time, Alfred’s passions are hunting, golf, watching hockey and walking. He also enjoys spending time at his camp.

Alfred likes making people laugh at meetings. He says that laughter is good medicine. Because of his friendly smile and always upbeat attitude, he is a joy to have at our meetings.

(Submitted by Eva Bordage of the Moncton Chapter)


Joan Mancinelli – Regina Chapter

Joan Mancinelli has had an ileostomy since 1980, due to Crohn's Disease.

Thirty years ago, Joan joined the Regina Ostomy Chapter where she has worked tirelessly in various capacities. She served on the Phoning Committee for two years in the early 1980s and was also Chapter President for one year, in 1988. She has been an ostomy visitor for 25 years and since 1999, has also been head of the Visiting Committee, arranging visitor seminars, meeting occasionally with the ETs as well as arranging all the visits to patients in the hospital, including follow-up phone calls and reports to UOAC.

Joan sits on the Executive of the Chapter, helping to find speakers for the monthly meetings (which she rarely misses) and annual seminar. She works on the Xmas party committee each year and is a hard worker when it comes to setting up for meetings or special events. Whenever we need something done, we know Joan is the person to ask for help.

Last August, Joan attended the UOAC convention in Sydney, Nova Scotia, which she thoroughly enjoyed, and now plans to be present at the next convention in Toronto, 2012.

As if her work with the chapter weren't enough, she has a son, daughter-in-law and grandson. After a 29 year career as a secretary with the Saskatchewan Provincial Government, she retired in 1996 and presently works in a bakery, which she loves.

Joan is also a 40-year member of the Catholic Women's League. She was once area coordinator for the annual Heart & Stroke campaign as well as a door-to-door canvasser for the Cancer Society. She volunteers at the Regina Globe Theatre. Lately, Joan has become involved with Grandmothers 4 Grandmothers, the Stephen Lewis foundation which raises money to help grandmothers in Africa raise their grandchildren, whose parents have died from HIV Aids. She also personally supports a child through World Vision. Last but not least, Joan has a keen interest in photography and shows herself as a true Saskatchewanite, with her avid interest in our beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders football team.

We salute Joan Mancinelli, whose dedication and support to other ostomates helps keep our Chapter going. This is why we nominate her to be our Unsung Hero.


Lorette Comeau – South West Nova Scotia Ostomy Chapter

Lorette Comeau is an ostomate who has been a South West Nova Scotia Ostomy member for many years. Her supportive husband, Robert, attends each and every meeting and event with her.

Robert and Lorette recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and have three sons, certainly living proof of their wedded bliss.

Lorette is our anchor in keeping us on top of our greetings. She listens and reads the news so that she misses no one. We always know that when called upon she will send out a get well wish or a sympathy card. She uses her good judgment on many occasions to send prayer cards. Lorette also forms part of our phone committee.

Lorette and Robert are very special people and we are thankful for their support and continuous attendance. We all want to express our praise and gratitude and truly believe that Lorette is an Unsung Hero.

Des notes de louange ‘a toi, Lorette.

Submitted by,
Ann Durkee
South West Nova Scotia Ostomy Chapter.


Alyson Walsh – Halifax Chapter

Alyson Walsh may be soft spoken and shy, but she’s a human dynamo when it comes to getting things done.

The 64-year-old retired teacher from Dartmouth, married to husband Leo for 33 years, suffered from ulcerative colitis for six years before she finally convinced doctors that she needed, and desperately wanted, an ileostomy done so she could have an improved quality of life.

“My gastroenterologist had me on prednisone but it wasn’t really working well for me,” Alyson recalls. “Finally, much of what I was eating was pureed and life wasn’t great. I went to an information session with a group of gastroenterologists in Halifax and one surgeon suggested the operation would be better than staying on drugs. My doctor finally agreed, and the surgery was done in 2004.”

Alyson says she’s never regretted a minute. With no other health issues, she had a good recovery.

When Ann Ray, an Ostomy visitor of the Metro Halifax chapter, stopped in, Alyson was convinced to join. “I didn’t know people with ileostomies or urostomies, and had heard a bit of colostomies, but I went to the first meeting I could after I left hospital.”

The chapter is forever grateful. Alyson, even though benefiting from meeting new people and learning from their experiences, pitched in immediately. She quickly became the refreshments coordinator, assisted on the chapter’s 35th anniversary committee and 2009 World Ostomy Day Committee , plus her ability and love for knitting and crocheting has meant a boon to chapter fundraising as she prepares quilts and other items for raffle. Her input has helped raise more than $1,000 in the last two years.

Even though she retired from elementary school teaching a dozen years ago, Alyson is never idle. She plays piano, knits, crochets, bowls in a regular league and bakes constantly.

“I’m never bored,” she says, eagerly anticipating starting another streak of attending Ostomy meetings, one broken by a major snowstorm January 9, 2011, after six years of never missing one. “I’ve learned so much, met wonderful people who gave me a sense of togetherness, everyone so friendly and nice. At that first meeting, I just felt we all had something in common and that never stops.”

Alyson brings Leo to every meeting (“I signed him as a member, too,” she says) and he’s now the main greeter at the door. “He’s shyer than me but he enjoys meeting people and talking with them. I think I can get him more involved, too.”


Robert Wychers – Ostomy Toronto

If you've ever been to an Ostomy Toronto meeting, you've met Robert Wychers - Robert is our faithful greeter at the door and welcomes everyone with a smile, a name tag and tickets for the 50/50 draw. If you haven't met Robert yet, you will if you're coming to the UOAC conference as he will be one of the people serving you coffee and offering conversation in our hospitality room. This job is perfectly suited to Robert and I'm sure by of the conference, he will have met everyone. Robert rarely misses a meeting, brings all the AV equipment I can't carry even though he too takes transit. He is the first one there to set up the room and put up signs as our new location is a bit of a maze and the last one to leave.

Robert has been our program director for many years, a member of our board and is always the first to volunteer to help. He brings an interesting perspective to all our meetings. This past year we've done a lot of displays and he takes our signs and all materials faithfully to each location - not an easy task by transit in a city the size of Toronto and he sometimes does more than one display a week. This year, he helped with the distribution of our new materials, a huge task that involved dropping packages with every ET and ostomy supplier in the GTA. He was also instrumental in finding our new meeting location when the church we were using was closing.

For everything Robert does, he truly deserves the title of Unsung Hero!


Sharon and Gerald Sheen – Calgary Ostomy Society

Sharon and Gerald Sheen have been members of the Calgary Ostomy Society for many years.

Gerald had ileostomy surgery for ulcerative colitis. Having an ostomy certainly hasn't slowed either of them down. Gerald continued to work for many years and retired from professional life about three years ago. They have been a great support to our chapter and are always ready to lend a hand when needed.

When our social convener could no longer participate, the Sheens stepped right into the role. Every meeting they make the coffee, set out the refreshments (most of which Sharon makes herself), serve and then clean up. They also look after our annual Christmas potluck, which is a tremendous undertaking.

Recently Calgary - CB Medical became the Western Canada depot for FOWC. The Sheens have been there to help sort and pack supplies for shipment to Toronto and countries that are in need of these supplies. They always make themselves available when there is an event to plan and participate in.

They are both very active in their church community. Sharon enjoys doing crafts and Gerald is perfecting his winemaking skills. 


Joan Peddle – Moncton Chapter

Our unsung hero is our ET – Joan Peddle. Even though she is not an ostomate, she has helped make the Moncton Ostomy Chapter run smoothly. Joan has her RN, Bachelor of Nursing and Canadian Nursing Association certification in Community Health and Enterostomal Therapy. She has given 16 years or more years of service to community health care, working full time for the New Brunswick Extra Mural Program. She has been an ET nurse since 2006 and attends ET conferences to maintain her level of expertise. Joan also does volunteer work, and is currently involved with a dia-betic foot care peer education program through the Canadian Association of Wound care to support people with diabetes in caring for their feet.

Joan attends all Moncton chapter meetings and functions. She has attended and been involved in the Moncton Chapter cluster meetings and two visitor training sessions held in the Moncton area. She is involved in all chapter business as part of our Medical Advisory Board and is responsible for finding great guest speakers for our monthly meetings. She holds monthly Ostomy clinics at a local Lawton’s Pharmacy to help ostomates in the community. The purpose of these clinics is for Ostomates to be able to access the services of an ET nurse in the community, for consultations and to pro-vide education about products that are available.

She is a great mentor for old and new ostomates; she gives family members support and she informs the community how important it is to give unused appliances to the chapter to send to Friends of Ostomates Worldwide Canada. In 2006, Moncton held the annual UOAC meeting and Joan was chair for finance and registration. This meeting was very suc-cessful with over 200 participants. Joan was part of a great team of volunteers for our small numbers, but our Moncton Chapter has and always will be a great one to belong to.

Our chapter could use more people like Joan Peddle who makes the lives of all ostomates richer. For these reasons above, the Moncton Ostomy Chapter would like to nominate Joan Peddle for the unsung hero award. 


Irene Stagg, Ostomy Halifax, April 2016

Irene Stagg gives so much to Ostomy Halifax. Irene is quiet and goes about helping others with no fanfare or desire for praise. She just gets the job done.

A retired nurse after 38 years of service who looks as though she must have started her career at age 10, Irene “solved” her Crohn’s problem with an irreversible ileostomy in 1981.

She immediately joined the Halifax chapter and has been volunteering ever since. Starting as member of the youth group, Irene looked after grocery tapes, totalling them for rebates that could be used for chapter funding. She was an interim treasurer, served on the organizing committees for the chapter’s 25th and 40th anniversaries, was a certified visitor and, five years ago, took over as visitor chair.

“The late Olive Jackson became chapter vice-president and had to give up visitor chair,” Irene recalls. “(member) Gail Creelman held my hand up as the next chair and whispered to me, ‘I’ll help you’, and that’s how it happened.”

She also handles the Ostomy Halifax phone line, answering questions and solving problems for new and experienced ostomates.

In her key role as Volunteer Visitor Coordinator, Irene receives calls from the ETs with names of those who have recently had surgery. Irene links the patients to chapter visitors of the same age, gender and ostomy type, not always an easy task.

Irene also coordinates Visitor Training Sessions. Visitors must complete a national certification every three years. Irene keeps track of who needs training, works with the ETs to develop the training materials, coordinates the sessions, the delivery of the training, and the provision of information to national office.

Not content to be idle, Irene volunteers once a week, assisting patients negotiate their way through the hospital in which she worked for 31 years.

She is a true unsung hero at Ostomy Halifax.



Helmet Friesen – Unsung Hero – Posthumously, May 2016


Helmut Friesen was a member of the Winnipeg Ostomy Association since 1992 as a cancer survivor and an ostomate. Fortunately for us, the Winnipeg Ostomy Association was one of Helmut’s great passions and he worked diligently to offer emotional support, experienced and practical help to all who walked through our doors.

Any new ostomate was greeted at our meetings by Helmut, hand outstretched, a smile on his face and armed with a fountain of knowledge to share.

Helmut was always respectful, a wonderful advocate for those living with an ostomy and worked to make their lives easier in some way. His great knowledge of the Government Health system, and his untiring lobbying were instrumental in the successful bid to maintain our very important and unique Manitoba Ostomy Program. His dedication to the Winnipeg Ostomy Association was very evident in every involvement.

When he was 1st Vice-President, Helmut was the kind of person who allowed mistakes without being picky, listened to ideas and problems, suggested other options with wisdom, and let people grow. When he had an idea, he was patient but determined. He knew when to push and when to back off.

His ability to speak to ostomates and give encouragement and advice was evident at all the meetings and educational sessions. Helmut was a certified visitor, reliable, caring, insightful and always ready to respond to requests for a visit.

His upbeat attitude was a great example of someone successfully living with an ostomy.

Helmut took on the responsibility, almost single-handedly, of collecting unused ostomy supplies from different sources in Manitoba. He created a pick-up team, figured out the correct way to sort and package the supplies, worked out a cost saving arrangement with a transport company to ship the supplies to the collection depot in Ontario. Countless hours of phone calls, pick-ups, and sorting and packing were all part of his ongoing work behind the scenes.

Helmut was the one constant figure in our Winnipeg Ostomy family. His commitment and strengths served us very well. In fact, I think we could call him our statesman, our patriarch, our pillar of strength.


John McCormick – Ostomy Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter – January 2017

John McCormick has been a member of the Ostomy Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter since he was diagnosed in 2001 with bladder cancer.
John has been the driving force of our Fundraising Committee since 2006.
John’s motto is that if there is a child in Newfoundland & Labrador wanting to go to Camp Horizon well we will make sure he or she goes.
John starts in early September and visits every business there is in St. John’s, Mount Pearl and Trinity North looking for donation for either our Christmas dinner or our annual Spring BBQ.
John is the type of person who throws himself into the fundraising project without having to be asked.
John, we really appreciate everything you do for our chapter and the children of our province.
Thank you so very much.

Emery Fanjoy – Halifax Ostomy Society – June 2017

Emery Fanjoy has been a backbone of Halifax Ostomy Society since the fall of 2010.
“My wife, Nan, had emergency ileostomy surgery in June 2010,” he recalls. “We accepted it immediately as our new reality. I helped Nan manage it for about three months and then she took over the task completely. Being an R.N., she was used to such matters. The ostomy didn’t affect our quality of life in any way.”
Emery, an electrical engineer who turned to sales and marketing and then to an executive role in the public sector, admits to being a curious type. He saw a brochure (for Ostomy Halifax) on a hospital bulletin board and he and Nan decided to investigate.
Emery accompanied Nan to that first meeting and immediately got involved. Both became certified visitors. Nan contributed baking and sandwich-making to monthly meetings as well as offering her cheery personality to chapter members and newcomers.
Never one to seek an executive role in the chapter but to work behind the scenes, Emery used his knowledge gleaned in many years of private and public sector work to help move the chapter forward. He assisted in improving financial reporting. He spearheaded a revision of the goals, values and mission statement of the chapter, resulting in more people with energy joining the board and executive.
He guided a committee to spread letters to each of 76 pharmacies in the Halifax area, letters distributed to customers buying ostomy supplies. The letters encouraged ostomates to talk to a certified visitor if they were experiencing difficulties, something many people are reluctant to do.
He arranged an ostomy speaker to appear at the annual meeting of Doctors Nova Scotia to make family physicians more aware of ostomies and the patients.
With others, he coordinated the program, and arranged many of the speakers, for the very successful Ostomy Outreach Atlantic, held in April 2017 in Truro NS with more than 150 attendees. He emceed the event and introduced the speakers.
“From that first meeting we attended seven years ago, I was impressed with the people who do so much for ostomates,” Emery says. “It was just automatic for me to help out, coming from a family that was very involved.”