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Comox merchants support Record newspaper carrier with cancer
It was a normal Thursday morning for Darlene Sharcott as she made the rounds in Comox, delivering The Record to businesses in the downtown core.
Her route includes a stop at The Alberni Project, a war memorial exhibit at the Comox Centre Mall where Lewis Bartholomew awaited with card in hand — a giant card with a whale on the cover. The inside displays signatures and wishes from 50 business owners surrounding the caption, Get Whale Soon!
The card, donated by Inkwell Stationers, was a gesture of appreciation for her service and an expression of support for Sharcott, who has breast cancer.
"She was quite shocked," said Bartholomew, himself a cancer survivor. "There seems to be an awful lot of that going around. I went through my own little battle once in 2007."
"He followed me to find out who I delivered to," said Sharcott, a single mother of three who delivers about 250 newspapers every Tuesday and Thursday.
She has walked four paper routes for most of the past five years. Along with providing a supplemental income to a disability pension, the job has its perks. Last summer, for instance, Sharcott received a gelato on the house from one of her recipients.
"I love the downtown route. I know all the merchants. They're so nice."
She says another perk is being paid to exercise — an upbeat attitude that is helping her deal with her illness.
Sharcott, formerly a legal assistant and insurance agent, used to run a business at home, but illness prevented her from continuing the work.
When diagnosed with breast cancer in October, she was surprised but not shocked or overwhelmed.
"Cancer's not scary to me, because I've encountered it a lot. It's just another illness to get through."
Both her grandparents died from the disease, while her mother is a breast cancer survivor who volunteers in the oncology department at Burnaby General Hospital. Though nearing 80, her mother helped Sharcott through her first cycle of chemotherapy by hauling newspapers around town.
"She's a real inspiration to me," said Sharcott, who starts the second of four cycles of treatment Friday at St. Joseph's General Hospital.
Because treatments are at week's end, she has enough recovery time to walk her routes on Tuesdays, the "easy day" for delivery, in reference to the lighter of the two papers.
"It's a matter of necessity," Sharcott said about delivering newspapers during cancer treatments.
In other words: If you don't work, you don't pay the bills.
"In order to raise kids, you can't do it on CPP (Canada Pension Plan)."
Along with delivering papers, Sharcott also drives for The Record. She hopes to continue delivering through chemo treatments but will be unable to work during radiation treatments in Victoria.
She implores people to get mammograms.