The most important part of Knox is the people! Our congregation has heart. Listed below are people in our congregation doing great things in the community.
Paying it Forward for BRA Day
When Sue Adair was diagnosed with breast cancer she drew much strength from a ‘sisterhood’ of women. She hopes to do the same for others as a speaker at Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day on Oct. 19 at St. Joseph’s Hospital
As a teacher and behavioural specialist, Sue Adair travels from school to school in Huron and Perth counties teaching children strategies to cope with anxiety and how to calm themselves. But in January 2015, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Sue could not calm herself.
Among the many “reinforcements” who supported Sue Adair (pictured left) during her breast cancer journey was her sister, Jane-Ann Parker (pictured right).
The Stratford mom of three couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t stop her mind racing to a place of doom. It took friends who were cancer survivors to get her out of bed in the morning and encourage her to arm herself for a fight rather than self-pity.
“When I was diagnosed I didn’t know there was hope, that I would live. Now, there is a lot of hope that I will live another 30 years.”
Those friends, and many others Sue would meet during her cancer journey, were her strength, her “reinforcements.” She is now stepping into that role for others as a speaker at Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day on Oct. 19 at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
“When I went to BRA Day last year I was awaiting a double mastectomy. I didn’t want to be one of ‘those’ women I saw all around me. But what I learned there, and what I saw in the show and tell lounge where women so graciously show their results, was so helpful. I went into my surgery with much greater understanding, knowing what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I also saw that sharing is healing. There’s a sisterhood in breast cancer. If my story helps someone make the connections they need to get through it, then that’s important.”
Presented jointly by St. Joseph’s Health Care London and London Health Sciences Centre, BRA Day is a national campaign to promote education, awareness and access for women wanting to know if breast reconstruction after a mastectomy is right for them. Whether a woman is scheduled for a mastectomy, had the surgery recently or many years ago, all are invited to learn about the options directly from leading plastic surgeons, hear from women who have undergone the surgery, view real results first hand in the women’s only ‘show and tell lounge’, and discover the St. Joseph’s Circle of Sharing support group.
In addition to speaking, Sue will be among volunteers in the show and tell lounge this year. She’s thrilled with her reconstruction results. But breast cancer for this 54-year old was a 1 ½-year ordeal that, at times, she felt would never end.
A decade earlier, Sue had a breast cancer scare that turned out to be benign. For 10 years following, she had yearly mammograms before being told she could switch to the routine, every two-year screening for those age 50 and over at low risk. Just shy of that first two-year mark, however, Sue found a lump. Having been through one scare she wasn’t concerned, until a doctor, she recalls clearly, sat down with her after a whirlwind mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy and said “we don’t expect the results to be good.”
In an unusual twist, Sue was diagnosed with stage 1 cancer – it was caught early – yet it was aggressive. The risk was high of the cancer showing up in her second breast. “I lost both breasts with stage one cancer.”
After five months of chemotherapy, Sue chose to have the double mastectomy and reconstruction all at once, in a single operation.
“I never had to see myself without breasts. That was huge for me,” says Sue, who had her surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “But everyone is different. Every case is unique. The important thing is that women know their options, that they have trust and confidence in their care, and that they have hope. That is what BRA Day is all about and why I’m telling my story.”
Cathy has been a teacher at Downie Central Public School until a sudden, and life threatening, illness forced her to suspend her career. As a colleague of hers, I always marvelled at how she could mould her students into responsible and caring individuals through her innovative teaching methods, as well as her personal example. I would often keep an eye open on events in her classroom to witness what was transpiring there, and I was proud to consider her my mentor.
Cathy and her grade 8 students could always be counted on to spearhead events that took place at Downie Central, which helped create a positive atmosphere in the entire school community. Spirit Days, Remembrance Services, Spring Festivals, and elaborate Graduation Celebrations were organized under her expert guidance, and always engaged, inspired, and maximized students outcomes in the process. During Spirit Days, which were organized in the first few weeks of September when school team building was essential, Cathy would ask each of her Grade Eight students to take a leadership role in the planning and running of their particular fun filled event. The students felt valued and respected, and that certainly showed as they accepted each team to their event, ranging from kindergarten age to grade seven. This was not just a fun, afternoon off from their studies however. Cathy produced creative learning environments in everything she did, in and outside of the classroom. It was always done in a way that maximized student outcomes no matter what the student’s intellectual ability was. She would value each child, and wouldn’t accept anything less than their full potential, and they became aware of that quickly. Cathy was a leader among the staff, as well as the entire school community, and she would fiercely stand up to any injustice that would affect the well-being of her students. When her graduates moved on to higher education at the end of June, we all knew that they had a step up on others, due in a large part to Cathy and her efforts during their last year of elementary school.
I’m sure the children miss Cathy just as much as she misses them, and I can’t think of a better Person to receive an Always Learning Award than her.