‘Al­lan – the Bear Pond Boss’


March is ‘Kid­ney Month’ and Thurs­day, Mar. 12 was ‘World Kid­ney Day’.

When kid­neys do not func­tion prop­erly, be­cause they are dam­aged, dis­eased or re­moved, dial­y­sis must be per­formed ar­ti­fi­cially through re­nal dial­y­sis. Without this ar­ti­fi­cial kid­ney dial­y­sis, toxic wastes build up in the blood and tis­sues and can­not be fil­tered out by the dis­eased kid­neys.

Even­tu­ally this build up of wastes, if not re­moved, will lead to death.

A pa­tient must en­ter an in­sti­tu­tion, three days weekly, to be checked out by a nurse, prop­ping up his/her arm up, and al­low­ing the nurse to slip two nee­dles into the blood ves­sels.

Th­ese nee­dles – one to cap­ture the blood and one to re­turn it – are at­tached to plas­tic tubes, lead­ing to a nearby dial­y­sis ma­chine.

For the next four hours, the pa­tient reads or watches tele­vi­sion/movies to re­lax, un­til the ar­ti­fi­cial kid­ney dial­y­sis ma­chine re­moves all the waste from the blood.

This whole or­deal is trau­matic on any in­di­vid­ual, dev­as­tat­ing to most, but for Al­lan ‘Bear Pond Boss’ Han­cock, it’s just “A bump in the road.”

Al­lan, 59, is orig­i­nally from the Outer Bat­tery in St. John’s. He was the yard boss for Oceanex on the St. John’s water­front.

He has be­come an in­spi­ra­tion for all who know him.


I first met this gen­tle­man while on a moose hunt­ing trip in the Red In­dian Lake area in Miller­town area, ap­prox­i­mately 10-12 years ago. He was stand­ing on the deck of his cabin, near Bear Pond, sur­rounded by friends and na­ture.

Shortly af­ter meet­ing him, he stated, “The cabin is my life.”

At that time, I had no idea of his per­son­al­ity, his strengths or his med­i­cal con­di­tion (past and present).

Since then though, I have learned Al­lan had skin can­cer di­ag­nosed in 1990 and re­quired sev­eral graft­ing; in 1994 he was di­ag­nosed with col­orec­tal can­cer and needed par­tial re­moval of the large bowel. Ten months later, the can­cer re­turned and the re­main­der of his large bowel was re­moved.

For a man who was rarely sick and hardly vis­ited a doc­tor prior to his can­cer, this re­ally shook him. He ques­tioned whether or not he could con­tinue work and con­tinue to en­joy the out­doors.

Af­ter surgery and con­va­lesc­ing, he was back to work at the water­front and up to Miller­town with the boys, en­joy­ing him­self once again.

Since 2002, Al­lan has en­coun­tered sev­eral bouts of skin can­cer in his fa­cial area – cheek, neck and back – and his in­ner ear re­quir­ing 13 treat­ments of ra­di­a­tion.

Al­lan re­fused to al­low this to slow him down.

How­ever, the big­gest blow came in Septem­ber 2003, when the can­cer re­turned into his ureter, and six months later, it had spread to his right kid­ney. His left kid­ney was only five per cent func­tion­ing; as a re­sult, the only al­ter­na­tive was dial­y­sis.

He thought this was the end of his trips to Miller­town. How could he con­tinue moose hunt­ing, rab­bit snar­ing or snow­mo­bil­ing when he had to be tied to a ma­chine four hours a day, three times a week?

To every­one’s amaze­ment and ex­cite­ment, once Al­lan started feel­ing bet­ter, he was on the phone, mak­ing ar­range­ments for dial­y­sis in Grand Falls and plan­ning trips around his ap­point­ments.


Al­lan’s love for Miller­town goes back to 1977, when he made his first trip with his work­ing buddy, Ches Swee­t­ap­ple. They both worked as steve­dores on the St. John’s Water­front.

Al­lan and Ches, in their spare time would steam out to­wards Cape Spear, in an 18-foot speed­boat, to catch fish, fil­let, or some­times split and dry it.

In 1980 Al­lan, Ches and an­other work buddy, Al­lan My­ers, along with a friend from Up­per Outer Bat­tery, Don Edge­combe, de­cided to build an­other cabin. The wood to build this cabin was ac­quired from ‘off­shore boxes’.

This cabin would be their home from 1980-2000. Then it was de­cided to build a newer and larger cabin. Al­lan, his son Dave and his friend Don Edge­combe be­came the own­ers of a new 24 by 32 cabin with a deck over­look­ing Bear Pond.

This would be Al­lan Han­cock’s home dur­ing his fu­ture ex­cur­sions to Miller­town.

Al­lan has to ar­range all his trips to Miller­town or his sight­see­ing tours around New­found­land with his wife, Anne, based on the avail­abil­ity of kid­ney dial­y­sis.

In the sum­mer Al­lan, Ann and fam­ily vis­ited Miller­town to fish and re­lax. Of course, each Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Fri­day, there was a two-hour trip by truck to Grand Falls for dial­y­sis.

In the fall, it’s berry pick­ing, rab­bit hunt­ing and moose hunt­ing. But, Al­lan’s vis­its to the hospi­tal had to con­tinue.

The win­ter months posed more chal­lenges, but it does not slow him down. It’s ice fish­ing, wood­cut­ting, snow­mo­bil­ing and rab­bit hunt­ing this time.

Al­lan has to be aware of the up­com­ing weather con­di­tions. A typ­i­cal win­ter trip to Grand Falls in­volves a 45-kilo­me­tre snow­mo­bile trip to his truck, and more than an hour’s drive by truck to Grand Falls.

Al­lan at this time, would pick up favours for his cabin friends, treats for the nurs­ing staff and pre­pare him­self for a four-hour dial­y­sis.

Very tired af­ter the dial­y­sis, he would re­peat the driv­ing process to his cabin.

Anne’s only re­quested one thing from his friends.

“Some­one ac­com­pany him to and from his dial­y­sis!”

Al­lan re­luc­tantly abided by this re­quest, but only be­cause of his wife’s wishes.

One of Al­lan’s doc­tors once said, “Al­lan, you’re like a Timex watch; you keep on tick­ing!”



Sit­ting qui­etly with Al­lan, he speaks softly about his fam­ily – his two sons, daugh­ter and wife. He bright­ens up when he talks about his four grand­chil­dren, rang­ing from ages 3-12 years.

Al­lan talks about the fam­ily gath­er­ing at his cabin at Bear Pond.

“The two older boys, 7 and 12, love this coun­try. I taught them ev­ery­thing about the out­doors.”

He talks about bring­ing his old­est grand­son to Miller­town at New Year’s and teach­ing him to set snares.

“I taught him all my out­door skills.”

Al­lan’s only sib­ling, a sis­ter – Eve­lyn, and her hus­band Brett also love to visit the cabin, es­pe­cially in the win­ter months.

This Christ­mas, Al­lan plans on bring­ing the en­tire fam­ily to Miller­town for Christ­mas and New Year’s.

He en­joys his rab­bit hunt­ing trips in early Jan­uary with his buddy, Ches, and his Ice Fish­ing trip in late Fe­bru­ary, with other cabin own­ers.

Al­lan was one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the an­nual ‘ Ice Fish­ing Derby’. The pro­ceeds for the past two years, nearly $1,000 has been for­warded to the Dial­y­sis Units – the first year to the East­ern Health Foun­da­tion and this year to the Cen­tral Health Foun­da­tion.

Al­lan was gra­cious when it was de­cided the fundrais­ers would be in his hon­our.

The Han­cocks wanted to thank the ‘won­der­ful nurses’on the dial­y­sis units in Grand Falls-Wind­sor, Gan­der, Cor­ner Brook, Water­ford Hospi­tal and Health Sci­ence Cen­tre in St. John’s where Al­lan has been treated.

Life isn’t about wait­ing for the storm to past. It’s about learn­ing how to dance in the rain.

This could be said about Al­lan in all his en­deav­ors. Al­lan’s mag­netic, quiet per­son­al­ity draws cabin own­ers from around the area to his pres­ence.

Mu­si­cians – Gary and daugh­ter Amy; Ralph and wife Carol; Chris and wife Jody – pro­vide con­tin­u­ous en­ter­tain­ment for all those who gather at one cabin or an­other. The ‘Boss’ sits qui­etly, tap­ping his feet, de­lighted with his com­pany and their en­thu­si­asm, but ever aware of his lim­ited in­take of food and bev­er­age.

He sits back and e n j oys im­mensely. He’s cur­rently plan­ning for the next gath­er­ing of friends, trust­ing that all re­mains well un­til they meet again.

Sum­ming up Al­lan’s per­son­al­ity … “You can com­plain be­cause Roses have Thorns, or you can re­joice be­cause Thorns have Roses.”

Al­lan is an in­spi­ra­tion to all who know him.

His sis­ter, Eve­lyn, once said, “Al­lan’s determinat­ion, to keep go­ing de­spite all life al­ter­ing ob­sta­cles, has shocked and amazed all those who know him.”

Ral­phie, a Miller­town cabin owner said, “Al­lan once told me that he had a choice to make. ‘Give up and live next to a dial­y­sis ma­chine or get busy and get the most out of life.’”

Things, in­deed, turn out best for peo­ple like Al­lan who makes the best out of the way things turned out.

His strug­gles with can­cer, and now his kid­ney prob­lems, have only en­hanced his de­sire to live life to the fullest.

Al­lan ‘Bear Pond Boss’ Han­cock.


This is the an­nual Ice Fish­ing Derby in Miller­town in early March with sev­eral peo­ple from ap­prox­i­mately 6-8 towns, in­clud­ing Marys­town. Al­most $500 will be do­nated this year to the dial­y­sis unit in Grand Falls. All par­tic­i­pants have cabins or are...

Ger­ald Walsh, from Lit­tle Bay-Marys­town, was vis­it­ing his son’s in-law cabin and won the top prize for the most and the largest fish caught. The ‘Pond Prize’ – do­nated by Wal­ter Cluett, a Marys­town busi­ness­man – was a snow­mo­bile hel­met won af­ter a draw...

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