Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jun 20 2015, Page 84

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - June 20, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE D9 FAMILY PHOTO The Filmon family in 1989 — David ( from left), Janice, Susanna, Gary, Allison and Gregg. time of her life D9 cover SATURDAY, JUNE 20, 2015 3 FP: It was more about the threads that run through people’s lives. I was wondering if your work in social services led to deciding to adopt? JF: That’s a good question. You’re absolutely right. One of my life goals was always to adopt a child. And I didn’t think we should take a baby, because of couples who, for whatever reason, it wasn’t happening and they couldn’t have a baby. We could take an older child and older children are always harder to find a home for. There’s just no question about it. FP: But you don’t like the word “ adopt?” JF: No, I wouldn’t say that at all. It’s a label. I’m coming at it to say here we are, a family of four kids. And for the record, we have three natural- born and one adopted, right? So people are always curious. And after you get an article ( in the paper) you’ll be standing in line... I’ll never forget I was at Fabric Land and a woman said, “ Oh, you’re Janice Filmon. I hear you have an adopted child.” And you want to say, “ Yes, she wasn’t vaginally delivered ( by me), but she’s an important part of our family.” People are very curious of adopted kids. FP: This is the beauty of a Q and A. I loved the way you explained that. I’m sure a lot of parents think that, but I’ve never heard it explained like that before. JF: You work so hard to get rid of that label. But it is what it is. FP: How did you get into politics? You married an engineer, not a politician. JF: You’re right. Gary was in business with my dad ( Success Business College) and there was a policy that the ( city) government had that was absolutely wrong- headed. So he started to make some inquiries. But to make a long story short, wherever he was calling, they started to say, “ Well, who are you? Maybe we could take you out to lunch.” And so he did, and when he came home and told us they were talking about the possibility of him running for politics... well, you could have bowled anybody over. This was Gary Filmon, the engineer. Now we’re going to do this?! Holy cow! Finally, I said, “ I’m not ever going to tell you not to do this. I don’t want you EVER to come back to me and say I wish I had, or a had a chance. What I will tell you is we ( the family), we’re here before everybody else. And if you make all the right decisions, you won’t be hearing from me. If you don’t, then I guess I’m going to have to walk heavy. Because I think we deserve to have some of you.” That was our bottom- line discussion in a nutshell. FP: What do you mean about right decisions? JF: I mean the amount of time he would stay away, where he would go, what he would do. The community can consume you. Politics can consume you. At some point, you have to have some ability to be able to say no. Or “ this is non- negotiable.” FP: What did you like about politics the most? JF: Oh, I loved meeting the people. And I loved learning. In some ways I felt I was in the living room of the world. One night you could be hearing about mining, then it could be foster parents. You started to get this smattering, like a menu of all these things. But let’s make it clear. My job was being the glue for the family. Gary had his job. It was the volunteer sector that gave me the opportunity to participate in the community and have flexibility. FP: What did you dislike about politics? JF: ( Hesitates) I don’t tend to think in those terms. Remember, I didn’t have any control of the input. I didn’t read the newspaper. And I didn’t listen to the news, so I could go about my life knowing what I was supposed to do. And if I met someone, I would treat them the way I would. It served me very well. When I look back, with four kids and what was going on in their lives and my own volunteer career, I didn’t really have a lot of time ( for politics). It wasn’t visceral for me. I’m not political. If you want to volunteer your time and give the very stuff that life is made of? Boy, am I grateful. Let’s get ’ er done. I’m very simple, I guess. FP: Tell me about when you first got diagnosed with cancer. JF: What can I tell you? It took me back. My mom was 48 and died at 54. I was 46, right at the height of everything Gary was doing and the kids. Part of it for me was, “ Oh, my golly.” Then it was just something from the inside that said, “ I’m a different person ( from my mother). This is a different time. This is not going to get me.” I remember Gary and I sitting on the sofa and me having to say, “ I know what my plan is for how this is going to go, but should it go another way, you’re way too young. You’ll need to find somebody else.” FP: Wait. The day you were diagnosed you were telling your husband — worst- case scenario — to find another partner? JF: ( laughing) I’m right in there. I’m going to take care of all these things so there’s no doubt of what anybody’s thinking. FP: What did Gary say? JF: Oh, he cried. He cried. FP: You joined the CancerCare Manitoba board almost immediately after, right? JF: Basically, what I was doing, in my mind… my dad died of a heart attack, so I was on the Heart and Stroke Foundation volunteer board. I’d been there for about six years. I remember thinking, “ OK, I’ve honoured my father. Now I’m going to have to get involved in CancerCare and honour my mother.” FP: What do you think of cancer? JF: I think it’s an insidious disease that’s often cultured in a perfectly healthy body. I was probably the healthiest I’d ever been. FP: Do you hate cancer? JF: Well, the obvious answer is yes. You hate what it’s done to people. On the other hand, I’m so grateful for other people’s children who study medicine and do medical research. Am I here because of what happened from my mom going into clinical trials? Did we have Allison longer than we might have because someone else’s child studied what they did? Really, it comes down to the humanness of it all. FP: Words probably won’t be able to describe the loss of Allison. JF: Yes. It’s one thing to have the diagnosis, the other thing is the journey. You’re learning a new language. You’re meeting new people. You’re going to places you usually wouldn’t be going. Just because you’ve had the first diagnosis that doesn’t mean you have the outcome. It just sets you on another track. Hope is the only weapon you have. You become a member of a club you don’t want to be a part of with other people who don’t want to be a part of it, either. It certainly has you digging deep, I’ll tell you. FP: So when you first heard of Allison’s diagnosis, was your reaction, “ I’ve beat this and now you’ll beat this?” JF: ( Clearly emotional) Absolutely. That’s the way. But that’s a whole other discussion for another day. CONTINUED ON PAGE D10 FAMILY PHOTO The Filmons with their grandchildren in 2008. From left, Aimee, Spencer, Emma, Josh, Jvack, Adam, Stefanie and Lexie. D_ 09_ Jun- 20- 15_ FF_ 01. indd D9 6/ 18/ 15 5: 56: 19 PM

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