Mother bat­tling can­cer hon­oured for courage

Lieu­tenant-gov­er­nor presents Har­bour Grace’s Erin Fol­lett with For­ti­tude Medal

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

It was a day Sec­ond Lt. Erin Fol­lett of the Har­bour Grace Church Lads Bri­gade (CLB) will likely never for­get.

Lt.-Gov. Frank Fa­gan, with his wife Pa­tri­cia, hon­oured the 35-year-old mother of three with a pres­ti­gious medal on Tues­day, Nov. 25.

The For­ti­tude Medal is an award be­stowed upon those who have con­tin­ued their hard work and ded­i­ca­tion, demon­strat­ing men­tal and emo­tional strength through pain or ad­ver­sity. Erin, now bat­tling an ag­gres­sive form of breast can­cer, is only the sec­ond per­son in the prov­ince to re­ceive it.

The pre­sen­ta­tion meant a lot to the Fa­gans, the cou­ple told The Com­pass. They lost their son, Dr. Richard Fa­gan, to can­cer in 2012 when he was only 25.

With a a pink ban­dana on her head and dressed in her CLB uni­form, Erin gra­ciously let Pa­tri­cia Fa­gan pin the medal to her chest.

For a mo­ment, Erin’s eyes welled up with tears, but once her kids and hus­band Wal ly joined her, she smiled.

“I can’t de­scribe the feel­ing of every­body com­ing up here, a ser­vice just for (me),” Erin told The Com­pass after the pre­sen­ta­tion. “It’s surreal.”

On April 30 of this year Erin was di­ag­nosed with triple neg­a­tive breast can­cer — an ag­gres­sive type of can­cer.

Since be­ing di­ag­nosed, she has re­mained in high spir­its, not let­ting the news bring her down. She is in stage four, with the can­cer hav­ing spread to other or­gans.

She didn’t let her ill­ness in­ter­fere with her life, or the lives of her fam­ily mem­bers.

In fact, only two week after get­ting di­ag­nosed, Erin took part in her old­est daugh­ter Alexan­dra’s Ju­nior High grad­u­a­tion, fol­lowed by a joint birth­day party for her two youngest chil­dren, Matthew and Abi­gale.

She has stood by her kids, sup­port­ing ev­ery­thing they have cho­sen to do. Alexan­dra de­cided to shave her head to raise money for can­cer re­search, although Erin was against it at first. In the end, she said yes, and Alexan­dra raised $1,400.

Her chil­dren have helped en­cour­age her, and she kept fight­ing for them. She be­gan chemo­ther­apy on May 22.

Erin’s de­ter­mi­na­tion only grew. As treat­ments con­tin­ued, so did her ded­i­ca­tion to her fam­ily, but also to the dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions and groups.

She took part in the Re­lay for Life in June, had her chil­dren in­volved in dif­fer­ent sports and main­tained her mem­ber­ship in the CLB.

The CLB has been a big part of Erin’s life, and the lives of her chil­dren. She is an of­fi­cer with the company, and her chil­dren are mem­bers. Even bat­tling an ill­ness, Erin worked hard to be a part of all events the CLB was in­volved in.

For Memo­rial Day, July 1, she wasn’t well enough to march in the pa­rade, but Erin made sure she was there. If she wasn’t in the hos­pi­tal for Re­mem­brance Day, she would have been at the cer­e­mony in Har­bour Grace as well.

Erin learned in Oc­to­ber she would re­ceive the For­ti­tude Medal from Lt.-Gov. Fa­gan. She was too ill to make it to an ear­lier cer­e­mony, so her fa­ther ac­cepted the medal on her be­half. How­ever, he didn’t come home with it.

The Fa­gans de­cided to hold off on giv­ing out the medal, in­stead mak­ing an ex­tra trip to Har­bour Grace last week to present it to Erin in per­son.

Some 75 peo­ple gath­ered at St. Paul’s Angli­can Church in Har­bour Grace to watch Erin re­ceive her medal.

Although the day was pos­i­tive, Erin was still fight­ing her bat­tle. She be­gan a new round of a dif­fer­ent chemo­ther­apy drug that same morn­ing.

“To­day was rough,” she ex­plained. “But I’m not ready to give up.”

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Erin Fol­lett (back left) re­ceived the pres­ti­gious For­ti­tude Medal last month after con­tin­u­ing to vol­un­teer with the CLB and other or­ga­ni­za­tions while bat­tling breast can­cer. Her fam­ily, her support sys­tem, stood by her side through­out the cer­e­mony. Mem­bers of the Fol­lett fam­ily are Matthew (front left), Abi­gale (front right), Erin (back left), Wally (back cen­tre) and Alexan­dra.

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