A Career Come and Gone (Part Three)

Posted September 5, 2014 by

What a life lesson…………………my Mother tells me to check in with seniors living in our neighborhood to assist with any chores they needed to be done. These were not just complete strangers however, although it wouldn’t have mattered anyhow. These were customers of my Mother’s, as she was a Leading Avon Representative, not only in London but for Southwestern Ontario. Prizes that she obtained for top sales included a new car. Certainly not the kind of prizes they give nowadays that I know of.

This experience during my youth provided me with the urge to volunteer in later life. ACCKWA (AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Area), has become a significant part of my life. In 1993, I was diagnosed HIV+ by my family Physician in London, but this relationship was abruptly ended. When choosing to become tested due to severe fatigue. Not having any knowledge of HIV/AIDS, I was in denial that upon having just recently retired from my career of 17 years, that my body was simply burnt out from extensive training, performing and touring the country. My doctor informed me that the office would call if I tested positive. Being home alone, the doctor’s office called for me to come in for an appointment. Obviously, I knew already that I tested positive but still found the courage to go. During this visit my Doctor informed me that he would not be able to provide me with treatment, as he was only a general practitioner.

I walked home numb from head to toe as I simply analyzed in my own head, that I was just served a death sentence. In 1995, I left my hometown and moved to Kitchener. I had been receiving care in London for the past couple of years, but the impact this had on both myself and my partner’s life, was the feeling of complete and utter nothingness. Upon moving to Kitchener, it still wasn’t until 1997 that we walked in the front door of ACCKWA. Not only was I a client, but began volunteering with the agency. I was slowly beginning to feel the blood flowing through my body again since my diagnosis. Last year I received my 15 year Ontario Service Award for Volunteers, as well as, the Gretchen Sangster Award for Education presented by Gretchen and ACCKWA………….(to be continued)