Peninsula residents start support group in Marystown for cancer survivors

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By the time she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2009, Dulcie Osmond was told the disease had progressed to stage 4. That didn’t sound too bad the Lewin’s Cove woman said, until a physician told there is no stage five.

Cancer survivor Dulcie Osmond

BY DANETTE DOOLEY

Special to the Southern Gazette

Stage 4 is the final stage of the disease.

“The doctor that operated on me told me to get my affairs in order. He said ‘This is a good time for you to mend broken relationships.’ I didn’t like that.

“It should have been left to my friend, my family doctor,” the 63-year-old said during a recent telephone interview.

Mrs. Osmond’s family doctor took a different approach to her illness. She told Mrs. Osmond it was too early to predict what lay ahead and a visit to an oncologist would bring with it more information.

The doctor’s words gave Mrs. Osmond hope.

An instructor with the College of the North Atlantic in Burin, Mrs. Osmond underwent four months of aggressive chemotherapy at the hospital in Burin. The side effects were horrendous, she said.

She was left unable to feed or dress herself. Her husband, Ralph, was by her side through the whole ordeal.

“I was almost comatose. I hardly knew I was in the world.”

Mr. and Mrs. Osmond have been married 44 years. They have two sons, Christopher and Michael and two grandchildren – James and Megan.

A certified fitness instructor specialist, Mrs. Osmond credited her tremendous feat of beating the odds to her strong faith, her family support and her determination to stay physically fit.

Mrs. Osmond still takes a form of chemo every three weeks.

“It’s still working, so let’s not dispute the power of God.”

This happy, friendly woman doesn’t have time to let cancer hold her back.

In 2011, she and Mr. Osmond went to Ireland, walked the fields of Athenry and kissed the Blarney Stone.

She said “That was always my dream so we did it.”

Like a winter’s cold, Mrs. Osmond’s sense of humour is contagious. It’s difficult not to smile as she speaks without barely taking a breath – her glass always half full rather than half empty.

She admitted getting ready to take on the day isn’t easy.

“I’ve got tinkling and numbness in my fingers and toes from the chemo, so I have to get Ralph up to help me get dressed in the mornings. I can’t get my earrings in; I can’t get my bracelets on.

“It’s still working, so let’s not dispute the power of God.” – Dulcie Osmond

“He jokes that he spent the first 40 years undressing me and loved every minute of it and now all he gets to do is dress me.”

As a peer navigator on the Burin Peninsula, Mrs. Osmond reaches out to other people facing serious illnesses.

She also speaks at various get-togethers about her diagnosis including events organized by the Canadian Cancer Society.

The society awarded Mrs. Osmond its ‘Medal of Courage’ this summer – an award granted to an outstanding individual, who in their own personal battle with cancer, has exhibited outstanding and unusual courage.

The society’s volunteer coordinator Lori Whitten said “Dulcie has been an important volunteer of the Canadian Cancer Society, offering her assistance at speaking engagements on our behalf, telling her story of inspiration and (she) continues to courageously fight her battle with cancer.”

Mrs. Osmond and two other cancer survivors – Darlene Blagdon and Gordon Lomond – have recently started, on their own, a support group for cancer survivors.

Both Mrs. Blagdon and Mr. Lomond live in Marystown.

The meetings will take place at the Marystown Lions Centre the third Tuesday of every month beginning at 7 p.m.

Mrs. Osmond said she will keep taking the chemotherapy drug as long as it keeps her cancer at bay. She’ll also continue sharing her remarkable story with others.

“When I got cancer I knew in my heart that helping others was what God wanted me to do. And I refuse to quit. I will not give in or give up until my last breath.”

For more information on the support group call Mrs. Osmond at (709) 894-4485, Mr. Lomond at (709) 279-1227 or Ms. Blagdon at (709) 279-7888.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic, Canadian Cancer Society, Marystown Lions Centre

Geographic location: Marystown, Burin, Ireland

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