‘One day at a time’

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Josh Pennell
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Gary Gosine won’t let health interfere with Wabana mayor’s chair

It’s not every person who could win an election from a hospital bed.

Telegram file
Conception Bay East-Bell Island MHA David Brazil (left) swears in Wabana Mayor Gary Gosine at the Dr. Leonard A. Miller Centre in St. John’s in 2013, where Gosine was recovering from quadruple bypass surgery. Gosine has been mayor of Wabana since 1997.

It’s not every person who would want to. Regardless of political or personal opinion, everyone has to give Gary Gosine a nod for that one. The longtime Wabana mayor with the longtime health problems posted a little good news about his well-being on Thursday.

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“Imagine me stuck for words. Just got some great news from my prostate Dr” the post read.

A little over a year ago Gosine had a colonoscopy and 12 polyps were found and removed. He didn’t have cancer, but obviously that kind of revelation would put anybody on the ready for imminent bad news. Most people anyway.

“I didn’t worry about it because something told me it was going to be positive,” says Gosine, fresh off the ferry on the Bell Island side after his appointment in St. John’s.

Fighting for his physical life has been a tougher go for Gosine than fighting for his policial future. He has been in the mayor’s chair since 1997. He beat his closest opponent in the last election by 277 votes and that was from a hospital bed in the Miller Centre. The two elections previous to that he won by acclamation.

Gosine was in his hospital bed for three months following quadruple bypass surgery. There were a number of setbacks during the period of his operation and recovery including a gall bladder attack. He also has problems with his kidneys and bowels.

“I went through everything that you could have possibly gone through in about two years,” he says.

His family is prone to such battles. His mother died at 55 in 1973 of lung cancer. His sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and given three months to live.

We’re a courageous family. My father took a stroke back years and years ago in the ’80s and he was hospitalized for 91/2 years Gary Gosine, Wabana mayor

“That was 30 years ago and she’s still kicking around,” says Gosine.

“We’re a courageous family. My father took a stroke back years and years ago in the ’80s and he was hospitalized for 9 1/2 years.”

But the recent good news and the more than two years that has passed since Gosine’s open heart surgery doesn’t mean he’ll be swimming the Bell Island Tickle any time soon. Every day is still a challenge. Recently he flew to Ottawa for a meeting on postal banking and came back wiped out after three days.  

“It was harder for me yesterday to go see the doctor than it was to fly to Ottawa and get back again,” Gosine says.

Between conditions with his kidneys and problems with bowels, health tests are no picnic.

“As my father would say, ‘I’m no 18 carat’.”

Which begs the question of why Gosine doesn’t slow down some.

“I love doing what I’m doing and I’m more active now because I enjoy being able to help people out and help the community out. It’s just me.”

Despite its small size, being the mayor of Wabana isn’t without it’s Titanic issues. The first and foremost is the ferry system. A couple of weeks ago Bell Island found itself in one of the hardest spots it has ever been in; both ferries were out of commission. Last fall a councillor was asked to resign over a harassment issue. Gosine doesn’t invite stress, but he says isn’t going to avoid it either if it means giving up his post.

As for slowing down when people tell him to he says, “I try to listen. I’m not saying I’m going to listen but I try.”

“My favourite saying in life now is, ‘Every day is a better day’. And I take it one day at a time.”

Organizations: Miller Centre

Geographic location: Wabana, Bell Island, Ottawa

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