GLACE BAY, NS — There are a lot of wonderful volunteers but one in Glace Bay won’t put the gauntlet down, even though he’s fighting for his life.
Bobby Donovan was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago and throughout treatment has never taken a break from volunteer work with the Glace Bay Y’s Men’s and Women’s Club.
“The way I look at it is I can’t do anything about it, what is to be will be,” Donovan said.
“People in the community need help and we help them all we can.”
Donovan said the club took over a bowling alley in 2009 and it’s important to see it continue as the club takes young people off the street, trains them and gives them employment.
“They need a little push sometimes, that’s all,” he said.
Donovan joined the Glace Bay Y’s Men’s and Women’s Club 11 years ago and has held every position. He is currently treasurer.
About two years ago Donovan was diagnosed with diabetes. About a week later he learned he had prostate cancer.
About a month later Donovan and his wife Mary lost everything during the massive 2016 Thanksgiving rainstorm.
Donovan said it turned out OK because someone donated a bed to them.
“I have my wife, my dog and a TV —that’s all I need,” he said.
“Stuff isn’t important to me.”
In November 2016 his prostate was removed.
Donovan was suffering with serious issues with his bladder and bowel and as a result couldn’t begin radiation for a year. He recently went through 33 rounds of radiation at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital over seven weeks.
However, throughout his entire ordeal Donovan has continued to volunteer passionately helping in any way he can.
During his treatment at first Donovan would be at the Y’s Men’s bowling alley or hall organizing programs, fundraisers and donations to charities, and when he began radiation and became too weak, he’d be resting on his couch answering emails, phone calls and texts from people needing help.
Club secretary Jeanette MacDonald said Donovan has a true commitment to both their club and to the community.
“He amazes us,” she said.
“He’s usually on the phone with us 10 times a day with everything from
checking to make sure there’s oil to coming down to make sure everyone shows up for their shifts. He makes sure things get down regardless of what’s going on.”
Donovan always co-ordinates the club’s sale of Christmas trees on his property and nothing changed this year. While resting from radiation his dog Fluke would monitor the security camera and alert him by barking whenever someone pulled in the yard. Another club member assisted with sales.
Donovan remains very weak and is still having serious issues with his bladder and is waiting for surgery. The status of his cancer is not known yet and is being monitored.
In the meantime he was found on his couch working on organizing a Chase the Ace fundraiser.
“I’m working to get three other groups involved so it can be a way to help them too,” he said.
Donovan’s wife Mary said they’ve been married 37 years and her husband has always thought about others.
“He is amazing, always kind and I’m proud of him,” she said.
Club president Jeff Knarr said Donovan has never stopped supporting the club regardless what he goes through.
“He always a driving force for the club, making sure people are here and things are getting done. He keeps us motivated, pushing us from behind the scenes. “
Dave MacKeigan, vice-president of Bayitforward, said although Donovan has been battling a serious illness his dedication to the community has never stopped.
“When we had the downtown light-up going on he was the first one to call and say, ‘Hey what can I do to help?’”
MacKeigan said in Glace Bay there are a lot of good people who do volunteer work and community work, and sometimes with family and illness it can be difficult.
“However, in Bobby’s situation where he was doing radiation for cancer and still laying on his bed and making calls helping people out — that’s amazing.”
• Age: 56
• A member of the Glace Bay Y’s Men’s Club for 11 years and held every position; currently treasurer.
• Diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago
• Donovan and his wife Mary have two children and two grandchildren
• To learn more about prostate cancer visit the Canadian Cancer Society website at www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/prostate/prostate-cancer/?region=on