Anonymous mailings inspire Waterloo cancer patient's journey

 

Friday September 27, 2002
JOHANNA WEIDNER
RECORD STAFF

 

Just an hour before Noella Ozon left her Waterloo apartment for her first chemotherapy treatment to battle breast cancer, a special parcel arrived.

Packed full of candy, magazines and other treats, the package was a welcome surprise, especially since Ozon didn't know the sender. The gift was sent by an angel, a Chemo Angel.

Ozon had signed up for a program where people volunteer as "angels" and send encouraging cards and gifts to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

She learned about the program while visiting an Internet chat room shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer last September, and having a tumour removed from her right breast.

"Even though I was going through chemotherapy, this brightened it all," Ozon, 35, said in a recent interview. "I'll carry it with me forever . . . It's just unbelievable."

Ozon had two angels looking out for her during her six months of chemotherapy at Grand River Hospital and six weeks of radiation in London, Ont. One woman sent gifts and another mailed cards weekly.

"They're little gifts, but they mean so much," Ozon said, tenderly displaying stacks of cards and little tokens obscuring her dining room table.

All the cards were carefully tucked in their envelopes, each marked with Ozon's address in distinctive longhand and bearing postmarks from all over the globe.

"I can't believe they were there for me, they went through it with me," she said. "I don't know what my chemo would have been without it."

She recently returned to her job as a florist and cashier at Zehrs in Conestoga Mall, and is walking in the CIBC Run for the Cure on Sunday, Oct. 6 with her nine-year-old son, Dalton Roberts.

And as soon as the doctors say her cancer is under control, Ozon plans to become an angel to another person coping with cancer.

Although Ozon's friends, husband Peter Ozon and family were sympathetic during the ordeal, her angels understood just what she was going through.

Chemo Angels was started by a woman in California whose father died of pancreatic cancer. She met a woman online who was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer and began mailing her cards and small gifts. There is also a program for seniors.

Learn more about the Chemo Angels program, or apply as an angel or patient at www.chemoangels.com.