Our first and second books, For the Breasts of Friends and For the Breasts and the Rest of Friends, are dedicated to our angels.
To those who are missed everyday. The Angels Among Us.
And to all the Angels that have lost the fight to cancer, and are missed by friends and families everywhere.
Hazel Marguerite Gillies made her worldly debut on September 25, 1930 in Hazenmore SK. Hazel, the sixth of seven children born to George and Minerva Gillies, grew up on a farm in the Southside District North of Mankota, SK. She received her primary education at the Southside Country School and completed her high school years at Mankota School. She then attended Peacock Technical Institute in Moose Jaw where she took a secretarial course. Hazel was employed as a secretary at a law firm in Regina before marrying Rankin Wilkins of Mankota on June 21, 1951. Hazel and Rankin made their home on the Wilkins Homestead- ten miles southwest of Mankota, where they ran a mixed farming operation. To the union were born six children – five daughters and a son – between the years 1952 and 1969.
In addition to the many daily tasks and chores of running a household and raising a family, Hazel assisted with the farming where she could- often running the tractor at haying time and trucking grain at harvest. She grew a large garden, which involved many, many hours of preserving. She was an avid seamstress and for many years she sewed most of her children’s clothes.
Hazel was actively involved with the UCW and Sunday School, as well as the Co-op Ladies Guild. Favorite times for Hazel included hosting family gatherings at Christmas and other special occasions and spending evenings with the neighbors, playing cards and visiting.
Hazel’s vigorous battle with cancer began shortly before Christmas 1973 – just a few months past her 43rd birthday – when she first discovered a lump in her right breast. This resulted in a radical mastectomy in January 1974, followed by a regime of radiation and chemo treatments.
In 1975 cancer was discovered in her shoulder and her leg, again followed by radiation and chemotherapy, which made her very ill. She had her ovaries removed in 1976 in an attempt to get rid of the hormones that could be aiding the speed at which the cancer was spreading. The cancer had spread to her lungs resulting in fluid build up, which led to many trips to the hospital to have the fluid drained. Hazel succumbed to cancer on the 30th of October 1977, just after her 47th birthday.
Hazel was the much-loved aunt of one of the authors, Linda Helgason.
Olga Stuckel was born on a farm close to Lake Lenore, Saskatchewan on April 19, 1931 to Joseph and Elizabeth Willen. She had two brothers and five sisters. Olga went to a small country school with her siblings and would tell stories of going horse back to school in the winter months. She grew up with few conveniences at home.
Olga married Verle Stuckel on July 15, 1952 in a small parish in St. James Saskatchewan. Their first home was in Wolverine, next a year in Margo and nineteen years in Lake Lenore. They had four children and Mom stayed home and raised the children, cleaned, cooked and maintained the household. Olga worked very hard at keeping her house clean and orderly, gardening, canning and cooking for her family.
She also spent many hours volunteering her time in the community. She did work some out of the home when she worked as a telephone operator in Lake Lenore and in later years, delivered mail to rural homes. She also started the first kindergarten class in Lake Lenore. Olga was a very religious woman and lived her life in a very Christian way. Her priorities were always her family, the church, the community and lastly, herself.
In 1972, Olga was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 1973, Verle and Olga moved their family to Foam Lake, where they bought, in partnership with her brother, the Western Hotel. Olga immediately became involved with several organizations including the band program, and the church. She made an impact on those who met her, as they still remember her well, 28 years later. After a three year fight against breast cancer, Olga died April 14, 1976.
Val Helgason is one of the authors of this book and was a daughter of Olga. She has many wonderful memories of her Mom and also many memories of Mom’s struggle with this horrible disease. It was often a difficult process for Val as we worked through the stages of this book. Olga is very definitely “an angel among us” and I am sure she looks down on Val and her hard work to fight this disease, with pride.
Reena Campbell Partridge
Reena Campbell Partridge was born December 27, 1958 in Carlyle Saskatchewan to William and Margaret Elgar. Reena spent all her school years in Carlyle and helped her Dad in his bakery. She then moved to Moose Jaw where she went to SIAST, and worked for Combined Credit Services, Hesson Travel and the Moose Jaw City Police.
Reena married Dick Campbell on August 25, 1979. In February 1982, Reena, Dick and their baby daughter, Crystal moved to Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. This is where she became friends with many of the Breast Friends and continued that friendship, especially with her close friend, Val Helgason until she died. While they were living in Foam Lake, Dick was taken from the family in a car accident. Reena was six months pregnant with Dustin, their second child. After Dustin was born, Reena spent the next couple of years working for the Shamrock School Division and Klebeck Law Office. It was during this time that Reena found her niche in life. Reena discovered she was a wonderful salesperson and left Foam Lake to pursue her new career. In 1986 she moved to Saskatoon for a short time and in 1987 moved to Regina to work in promotional marketing. She met Richard Partridge and Richard soon became “Dad” to Crystal and Dustin.
Reena started her own company in 1992 named RC Promo Marketing. She was a very successful business woman who proved her ability over and over again. In 1994 her business was turned down for membership in the Promotional Products Association of Canada, but in 1999 won their Distributor of the Year, and was voted their number one distributor in 2001. Reena’s company was also featured in “Imprint Magazine” and an Industry Canada Publication. Reena and Richard were married March 17, 2002, after what many friends have considered the longest engagement in history.
Reena was a successful business women, a first rate mother and a great friend. She was able to balance work with recreation. Richard, Reena, Crystal and Dustin spent hours together camping, playing cards, water skiing and many other activities.
Reena was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2001. After weighing the pros and cons of her type of cancer, she chose not to use the conventional methods of treatment and lived her last year surrounded by husband, children, family and friends. Reena died July 29, 2003.
In the short time she lived in Foam Lake Reena left a mark on many people. One always left Reena with a smile on their face and a “life is good” feeling. We often wonder if Reena is still doing promotional marketing in heaven, and has guided this book to its success.
Avra was born in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. Growing up in small town Saskatchewan, in a family with close bonds, left a definite indelible mark on Avra. This beautiful little rural town that Avra called home equipped her with a strong sense of community spirit, which was a guideline for her entire life.
Superlatives flow easily when we think of our sister Avra; so energetic, so optimistic, so organized, so loving. Avra had the entire package, and she used it to transform the world around her, to make it better place for everyone. It wasn’t by accident that she chose a life in recreation administration and health care. She wanted to help others, not surprising know that compassion, empathy and selflessness were core values for Avra. Avra’s commitment was total. Full speed ahead, to her family, her job, her community, her friends.
Avra graduated from the Foam Lake Composite High School and obtained a Recreation Administration Degree from the University of Alberta. She married Paul Lencucha in 1975 and began community involvement in Fort Saskatchewan, Slave Lake, Edmonton, Venda, South Africa, Winnipeg and Edson, where she and Paul resided. Everywhere Avra went, she impacted lives. She took great pride in her position as Regional Health Co-ordinator for the Westview Health Authority.
Avra had time for everyone and everything. Perhaps inwardly someone had given her a message to live life fully because her time with us would be short. Fortunately, she was able to travel extensively and partake in numerous outdoor activities. She thoroughly enjoyed her involvement with musical theatre, teaching fitness classes, planning rehabilitations programs, or just going for long walks. As her siblings, we always thought Avra’s priorities were a little mixed up though… like choosing to go for a walk after dinner instead of having dessert!
Avra loved and was loved by her entire family and extended family. There was nothing superficial about Avra’s inter-relationships with other people. She made everyone feel so special. She truly cared abut the activities of others, always giving encouragement, always rejoicing in downplaying her roles in quiet conversations.
But as her relatives and friends we know that Avra has probably touched everyone in some different or special way. She was, however, not perfect… for instance, she wasn’t much of a cook. Her refusal to use butter, sugar, cream or anything unhealthy meant she could turn a scrumptious recipe into the most bland, awful excuse for a meal that you’ve ever eaten. She never could realize that keeping fat cells pumped up requires constant vigilance!
Avra experienced numerous accomplishments in her life but nothing compared to her most significant role, that of a mother. Her son Raph and daughter Jameela were her life. She was their biggest fan, their loudest cheerleader. Her enthusiasm, support and encouragement was always evident. Avra instilled in her children the principles of love, understanding and caring and the qualities of being moral, decent and ethical, values that she lived by.
Avra’s courage and strong will, overwhelming kindness and healthy lifestyle served as a model to many. She lived a healthy lifestyle, so like many others, we who loved her realize that cancer is indiscriminate in who it claims. Avra remained courageous and optimistic throughout her battle with breast cancer. She had seen her sister succumb to cancer in the last year of her own life. In spite of this Avra, never complained, never showing her pain or anxiety. That’s why groups such as the “Breast Friends” are “working for a cure”. Avra would be disappointed if we dwelt on “why did she have cancer”, because she always accentuated the positive. She was a remarkable lady, she was a terrific person. She left us too soon.
We are sure she is smiling down on all of you, as you support Breast Cancer through your purchase of the Breast of Friends cookbook. She would be so proud of the group from her home town. The book is such of reflection of what she believed in.
Kevin Murray Cooper was born in 1955, the youngest of five children born to Bill and Mavis Cooper. Kevin grew up in a loving family of three brothers and a sister in Wynyard, Saskatchewan. Upon graduation, Kevin attended the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where he earned his Bachelor of Education degree. He began his teaching vocation in Neudorf, Saskatchewan, and then moved his growing family to Foam Lake in 1986, where he joined the staff at Foam Lake Composite.
Kevin married his soul mate, Darlene Popadynec, in 1980 and together they raised a family of three children, Sarah, David and Kathryn.
Kevin had a keen intellect and a rapier wit. His legendary sense of humor made him a joy to be around, and those that knew Kevin loved his companionship. His skill as an educator and administrator was a result of the honest concern that he felt for every student under his care. Kevin was greatly loved and respected by his students and colleagues alike. Kevin was a gift to the children he taught. Kevin was a volunteer that donated countless hours as a volleyball and basketball coach, referee, committee member on countless organizations, and was an active member of his church.
Kevin loved the simple joys that everyday life provided. His family was the center of who he was, and he loved being with Darlene and the kids, whether it was spending summers at the Fishing Lake cottage or spending raucous times with the extended Popadynec and Cooper families. Kevin was an avid athlete, and took great care of his health. He was the envy of men half his age, whether out running or playing his beloved rec. hockey. He never neglected his mind, and was an avid reader and enjoyed challenging himself with new information.
Kevin’s faith in God grew with him, and provided great hope and solace when he learned of his terminal melanoma in late 2004. His family and friends rallied around him, and it was often said that Kevin gave more to the people that came to visit him than they provided to him. His sense of humor, his strong faith and his love for others never left him, even as the cancer and several surgeries took their toll. Kevin passed away on April 23, 2005, surrounded by his loving family and friends. All who knew Kevin knew that this was a special man that blessed their lives. Kevin is missed by all who knew him, and especially by his children and his wife Darlene, one of the ten Breasts of Friends authors.
Darlene Reihl, wife, mother, and teacher was born the eighth of thirteen children born to Andre and Gertude Nimegeers. She was raised on the family farm near Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Her post secondary education began in Toronto and continued at the University of Regina. “The person that is the most difficult to love is the one that needs it most”, was her philosophy which she applied in life and in her teaching career, which began in Saskatoon and continued in Moose Jaw for almost thirty years. Darlene married Walter and they raised two sons and a daughter. Her unconditional love and devoted service to her husband, children, and later her grandchildren was so evident.
A woman of integrity, she shared her zeal for life and her unabashed faith in God by her words and example. She served in many capacities in her community, school system, and parish. She was a talented singer and musician, wrote prose and poetry, and enjoyed various crafts. She believed her students benefited from creative outlets, so she initiated extra-curriular craft clubs and led with her musical talents. Darlene was a generous fun loving hostess and enjoyed summers spent with her family and friends at Katepwa Lake, gardening, golfing, and hiking.
As the reality of the terminal nature of her illness became apparent and its indignities ravaged her body she displayed an abiding faith, hope, and courage.
Darlene is missed and fondly remembered by many, including her sister Cecile Halyk, one of the 10 Breast Friends.
Andre, the eldest son in the family of thirteen children born to Andre C. and Gertude Nimegeers was raised on the family farm near Weyburn, Saskatchewan. His love for the land, animals, and nature was evident as he chose mixed farming as his life work. He was a very sociable person, loved to visit and enjoyed hearing and sharing a good story, his laugh was contagious. Later, in addition to agriculture he chose to own and operate a motel which facilitaed his outgoing nature.
Andre was husband to Mildred, and father to two daughters and a son. He was committed to his family and shared his pride in their accomplishments. Andre loved music, especially jazz, and few things would make him happier then a “singsong” around the piano. He loved to sing and belonged to his parish choir for many years, as well he enjoyed reading poetry, and sharing some of his own compositions. He was an accomplished bridge player and travelled to tournaments far and wide. Andre was a committed Christian and found hope and consolation in his faith. When cancer struck, he struck out with tenacious faith, and hope, retaining his irrepressible humor.
Andre is missed by many, including his sister Cecile Halyk one of the 10 Breast Friends.
Donna was an angel to us here on earth as much as she is now in heaven. She leaves an amazing legacy of memories that put smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes. You knew that you were in for a good time and lots of laughter if you were in Donna’s company. She was as genuine and sincere as a person could ever be and that was reflected in her life as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, auntie, or friend. She was never afraid to stand up for what she believed, and when it came to fight with cancer, she didn’t back down and fought to the end. Donna died from gall bladder cancer on August 30, 2005.
Donna was born on October 14, 1956 in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan. She was a graduate of Foam Lake Composite School and also received her Recreation Technology diploma from Kelsey Institute in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1977. As the middle child of seven, she grew up as a fun-loving, competitive, and independent person. She enjoyed sports as a participant, fan, and coach. You always knew when Donna was in the stands at any sporting event with her boisterous cheering. As a teen she helped out on the family farm, and as an adult was committed to the farm way of life at her home in Frontier, Saskatchewan.
Donna made her family a priority and that was evident in the positive support and dedicated involvement in her husband’s and children’s lives. Donna and Brian were married in 1978 and raised three wonderful children: Sara (1983), Craig (1985), and Kevin (1988). Donna’s home was her castle where the door was always open. She was a gracious hostess and it was with her great outpouring of hospitality that everyone felt so welcome. Donna’s faith in God is what guided her day by day and it always showed in the love and care she extended to so many. Her spark for life was contagious and was one of the reasons she had great friends. Her thoughtfulness was felt through her ability of remembering people’s names and dates, as well as encouraging notes, calls, and visits.
Donna made time for many things in her life, always willing to give of her time and energy. She was involved in almost every committee imaginable, using her organizational and people skills to the fullest. Donna was very passionate about many causes, one of which was rural health care and she continued to lobby for this issue right up until she got ill in June 2004. Just three months before her passing, Donna was a participant in the Relay for Life which raises money for cancer research and prevention where she led her team the Strong Striders.
Donna would want us all to continue our “strong strides” towards beating cancer. She was an awesome cook who loved collecting and sharing recipes. In fact, she even paid $60 at a family reunion auction to get a For the Breasts of Friends cookbook! Donna was a life-long friend of one of the cookbook’s authors, Jacquie Klebeck. We miss Donna so much but thank God for the time we had with her. She is one of His precious angels now and a precious angel among us.
Steve was born and raised in the Foam Lake area, second oldest in a family of seven. He and his wife Laura of 50 years raised five children, two girls and three boys. You knew when you saw his “biggest teary-eyed” smile that his grandchildren and great-grandchild had arrived for a visit. He lost his courageous battle to lymphoma after 12 hard fought years.
Steve farmed, drove a school bus, owned and operated a family restaurant and gas bar. His caring and compassionate nature saw him train as an EMT and serve in that field for many years. In partnership with one of his sons, he built and operated the La Vista Motel in Foam Lake from which he retired. He was a great promoter of Foam Lake and area, an active volunteer in the community and eventually sat on Town Council.
Steve loved a good game of cards, to travel, go on fishing trips, entertain at home or the lake cottage, and was an avid hockey fan. He enjoyed building and was often seen puttering on different projects.
Family was very important to Steve. Seldom did he miss a birthday or anniversary. His idea of a great evening would be to wine and dine with family and friends and of course the meal always had to end with something sweet! He was proud of everyone’s accomplishments and when you received a compliment you knew you had earned it! I can hear him saying to me on the success of this group “Here’s looking at you kid.” Now that would be a compliment! Steve’s sister Nat Dunlop is one of the cookbook authors.
Shirley Anne Teplitsky-Marantz
Shirley Anne, was known and will be remembered for her kindness, generosity, and wonderful sense of humor. She lived her life to the fullest, never missing an opportunity to celebrate! These celebrations always involved the people she loved… her family, her friends, her colleagues, her students.
Shirley Anne was born in Winnipeg, the oldest (and most spoiled) of five children. Her youngest sister, Jacquie is one of the Breast Friends. She shared a bond with her siblings that will be treasured always. Shirley Anne grew up in the wonderful community of Foam Lake, Saskatchewan . . A place that always was “Home” for the entire Teplitsky Family. Summer vacations at Fishing Lake were the highlight of Shirley Anne’s extensive travels that took her and her husband Gary to many destinations all over the world.
Shirley Anne was a devoted teacher. She had an amazing relationship with her colleagues and students at St. John’s High School which kept her inspired throughout her career and offered her many of her best times. The staff at St. John’s became her second family. She was proud to learn of the scholarship that has been established in her name. What an honorable tribute to her sensational career.
Shirley Anne was proud of her Jewish heritage which she translated and passed onto her family. She embodied the best of all religious principles: kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, sensitivity and generosity.
Family and friends were everything to Shirley Anne. She believed in respect and was legendary for her ability to make everyone she knew feel special. She loved life and made the most of each and every day. Her love for family was most evident in her devotion to her step children, her nieces, nephews, and great nephews. She took pride in their accomplishments and was actively involved in their lives.
Shirley Anne had an indomitable spirit that went beyond courage. She fought her battle of cancer with that incredible spirit and courage. Even in her final days, she continued to be a teacher. She taught everyone around her to be positive and to never take anything for granted. She believed that life was a gift and her attitude was a true inspiration that will live on forever.
Shirley Anne faced many cancer treatments throughout the last years of her life. She never had any self pity, instead she often referred to the song, “I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together”. The toughest part of her journey was to see her younger sister Avra and the many children at the hospital that were suffering from cancer. She had such respect for the medical team. Her strength and determination amazed everyone that knew her.
Shirley Anne died at the age of 56. She loved life and the wonderful memories we created with Shirley Anne touch all of us that loved her. We know if she were here today, she would be so proud of the work of the Breast Friends from her home town of Foam Lake!