It’s my ongoing relationship with Wellspring that continues to keep me connected to what’s really important in life.
Anne Marie O’Sullivan’s favourite quote, by Adam Lindsay Gordon, reads: “Two things stand in stone: kindness in another’s trouble, courage in one’s own.” For the past 20 years, Wellspring members, volunteers and staff at Westerkirk House have witnessed firsthand the kindness and courage in Anne Marie.
Anne Marie discovered Wellspring in 1995 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “At first I was reluctant and frightened to come to the programs,” she says. “But once I walked into the Coach House, I immediately felt welcomed and so surrounded by kindness that I never left.”
Even with the support of her loving husband and many friends, Anne Marie still experienced isolation and loneliness with the initial diagnosis. “Wellspring was a sanctuary and constant beacon of hope in those early frightening days,” she says. “It was the people at Wellspring, their inexhaustible supply of kindness and courage that kept me going.”
Anne Marie took part in every program available to her. “Every single program helped and each program helped in a different way,” she says. In particular Maria enjoyed the group support, which allowed her to meet with people experiencing a broad range of issues and at varying stages of the cancer journey. “I’m so happy to have found this place,” she says. “To me, Wellspring was a diamond in the rough and now I feel like it’s grown into a bright shining gem.”
Wellspring continued to be a source of support for Anne Marie through a second cancer diagnosis as well as her husband’s diagnosis and death. “It’s my ongoing relationship with Wellspring that continues to keep me connected to what’s really important in life,” she says.
In 1996, Anne Marie became a Wellspring volunteer, in part because she recognized that it would contribute to her own healing process. Over the years she has been a front desk volunteer, peer support volunteer and support group co-facilitator.
As co-facilitator of the Patients Connect Group since 2005, Anne Marie has been able to put her caring nature into practice. “I feel privileged to see and be part of the sharing that takes place in the group and honoured to witness the courage and kindness of support group members towards each other.”
Anne Marie believes that for cancer patients, support groups offer something that they can’t get anywhere else. “They help members to find and develop their own inner strengths needed to handle the issues along their journey, whether it is a medical or a life issue. And some, including myself have made invaluable lifelong friendships with some amazing people I’ve met through Wellspring,” she says.
Wise, confident and deeply caring, Anne Marie is profoundly committed to Wellspring and what Wellspring brings to the lives of people with cancer. Wellspring is honoured to recognize Anne Marie for her volunteer work at Wellspring Westerkirk House, 20 years and counting.