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June Callwood: Living with cancer

No one was excluded in the world of June Callwood. The celebrated journalist/activist with a "just fix it" attitude worked tirelessly for countless causes. She helped found over 50 social organizations including Nellie's women's shelter and Casey House, Canada's first AIDS hospice. Dubbed St. June, the woman with movie star good looks and an unwavering capacity for compassion, battled personal tragedy, depression and controversy in a long life that served as Canada's conscience.

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There are a lot of pluses about having cancer, June Callwood tells CBC's Shelagh Rogers. "I lost a lot of weight... I haven't been a size eight since I was 25 years old." Callwood, who just celebrated her 80th birthday, has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and is refusing chemotherapy. "I'm in good shape," says Callwood, "I've lived a long time."
• Both June Callwood and her husband of 60 years, Trent Frayne, were diagnosed with cancer (2004).

• "Dying isn't the worst thing that can happen to you, losing a child is the worst thing and we've been through that," Callwood told CBC's Alison Smith. "Dying is nothing compared to losing a child."

• "I was very pleased to get cancer. I thought, 'Thank God, I'm finally out of here.' I was in Ottawa, jurying the Governor General's Awards for non-fiction, waiting in the hotel room for a call from my doctor. And when I got the news, I was so happy I danced around the room." -- June Callwood, June 26, 1994, the Globe and Mail

• A week before this interview, the Canadian Journalism Foundation presented June Callwood with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution as a writer and a social activist. Governor General Adrienne Clarkson toasted Callwood calling her a "general nuisance" for her tireless devotion to social justice.

• Callwood loved sports cars. For her 80th birthday, her family surprised her with a brand new Mazda Miata. She is also a licensed pilot and an avid swimmer.

• Callwood received countless honorary degrees and awards including the Order of Canada. Callwood was made a member in 1978, an officer in 1986 and a companion, the highest rank, in 2001.

• June Callwood died of cancer in Toronto on April 14, 2007. She was 82. 
Medium: Radio
Program: Sounds Like Canada
Broadcast Date: June 14, 2004
Guest(s): June Callwood
Host: Shelagh Rogers
Duration: 1:25

Last updated: June 22, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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