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Three time cancer survivor shares her story

by Bonnie Whitehead

HARRISTON - Gloria Stinson is a woman here recognized for her faith in God, devotion to family, love of friends, as well as her ongoing battle with cancer.

On Sept. 29 at the United Church during the Canadian Cancer Society Wellington County Unit volunteer appreciation luncheon, Stinson revealed the story of her life - reeling, then recovering from a diagnosis of cancer - three times. Her strength, courage, perseverance, and dogged determination are a direct result of the compassion and love of her family, friends, and doctors.

She credited her recovery to the power of prayer, a strong spirit, a positive attitude, and a motto of don’t ever give up the fight.

Stinson said, “Cancer is one horrible disease that touches so many loved ones, myself, and my family.”

As a child, she heard of heart attacks and strokes, and now believes that her grandmother more than likely died years ago of some form of cancer. She is thankful for new digital imaging for breast screening, and believes in regular examinations. From first findings in 2003 to a biopsy to awaiting the answer, there is a lot of prayer, love, and silence. She said hearing yourself say, “I have cancer” immortalizes the diagnosis. The hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus repeats in her mind and helped her recover from surgery for breast and uterine cancer and six weeks of radiation treatments in London. She recalls God’s handiwork as she studied the beauty of nature during the drives and as she felt the love from smiles and embraces of support from friends at church.

In 2007, pneumonia left Stinson more than weak; it led to the discovery of a blood clot in her lung. A sore throat led to the discovery of throat cancer. She recalled holding a drink of water in her mouth for 15 minutes, unwilling to swallow. Although thirsty, she knew the pain would be unbearable. Later in the year, a scope and swab revealed lymphoma. The “red devil” treatment left her weak, shaky, but eventually able to walk with a cane. The side effects caused hair loss and the loss of her big toe nail, but not her spirit to survive.

Cancer may have diminished her capacity to live life to its fullest for a time, but she never let go of her  smile and spirit. She continues to volunteer and drive patients to appointments. Confidential stories of their struggles kept her involved, committed, and enthusiastic for a cure. She appreciated all the love, the support, and the chance to share her story, just one in all the confirmed cases of cancers that plagues a nation.

Forty people, including her husband, Laverne, children and grandchildren heard that success story and rose with tear stained faces with tears welling in their eyes to applaud and offer gratitude and love to her.

Host Sara Orrell thanked Stinson for her heart wrenching story of cancer, recovery, reassurance, resilience, and survival.

Rev. Mel Sauer offered a blessing for the meal and for everyone’s willingness to give of their time and share a role in the unit. The women of the church prepared a luncheon that included generous portions of carrot, chocolate, cherry, or lemon cake decorated with chocolate formed “ribbons of hope.” Area president Laverne Stinson was pleased to delegate jobs to volunteers who raise funds and awareness for the Cancer Society. He was excited to hand out years of service certificates, as Orrell called the names, and Lorraine Skarratt secured the years-of-service pins.

Lorraine Ballard of Palmerston was the first of seven to be pinned and congratulated for her five years. Gina Beggs-Mineault, of Clifford, and 12 others had served ten years.

Carol Black, Alice Douglas, and Duncan Watson of Harriston received 15 year awards. Twenty year pins were given to Meryl Arthurs and Bob Reid, who accepted for his wife Dodie. Rita Bedell and Rita Doig earned 25 year pins.

Stinson was cheered enthusiastically for 30 years with the society. Special credit and awe was shown when Eleanor Gordon was called to the front for serving faithfully for 40 years. Others who were unable to attend will receive their certificates and pins at a later date.

Skarratt, whose personal involvement with cancer caused her to pursue her current course of employment, appreciated hearing Stinson’s story. She applauded efforts of all the volunteers that benefit so many. Today, 62% of cancer patients will survive due to caring supporters.

Everyone received a gift of tulip bulbs in appreciation of their years of service to the Canadian Cancer Society.


October 14, 2011


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