Cancer battler's kindness remembered

PAULINE WATSON will be remembered as a woman who inspired and supported others through cancer, even while battling the disease herself.

Mrs Watson, founder of the Launceston Breast Cancer Support Group and staunch advocate for the Breast Cancer Network, died early on January 30, aged 69.

Mrs Watson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991 and relapsed in 1993 in the spine.   Doctors did not expect her to live two years.

Demonstrating her usual feistiness, she persisted with treatment.

Son Wayne said battling the illness inspired her to support other women. The West Australian man said staying at his parents' Launceston home meant being surrounded by breast cancer fund-raising merchandise.

``Once she beat it, that's when she tried to get that attitude in other people,'' he said.

``I'll remember her cancer involvement . . .  Seeing her do so much for so many people and just getting enjoyment.''

Mrs Watson volunteered with the Cancer Council and regularly had coffee with women battling breast cancer. The meetings became so well-attended that she decided to formalise the process.

Here, the Launceston Breast Cancer Support Group was formed.

The group changed the lives of countless women suffering the illness.

After 15 years of treatment but relative safety, cancer was found in Mrs Watson's lung. The disease eventually moved to her brain, where tumours quickly doubled from three to six.

The return of the illness did not prevent Mrs Watson's involvement in Relay for Life, Launceston's Cancer Support Centre and Biggest Morning Tea.

State Breast Cancer Support Network chairwoman Mandy Forteath said Mrs Watson's effect on people was indescribable.

``She was welcoming, open and totally honest.

``She'd keep checking in on people. She had a genuine sincerity.''

Mr Watson yesterday reflected on his life with Mrs Watson. The past two years of his life were spent caring for his wife.

The pair met in 1975, when Mrs Watson managed a motel in Echuca. By March 1976, Mr Watson had proposed.

He said the proposal was one of his fondest memories. He popped the question casually mid-conversation. Just as easily, she responded with a yes.

Their life was spent moving between New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, eventually settling in Launceston.

Mrs Watson was heavily involved in Punchbowl Primary School's Parents and Friends Association, Little Athletics and school and social tennis as children Paul and Wayne grew up.

Paul said tributes to his mother were flowing in from friends.

``If friends were diagnosed with cancer, I'd just get them to spend half an hour with Mum,'' he said.

``Those that did benefited.''

Mr Watson already misses his partner, who will be remembered on Wednesday in Launceston and Friday in Bendigo.

``I didn't appreciate until the last three months how beautiful her smile was,'' Mr Watson said.

Son Paul, husband Russell and son Wayne with photographs of Pauline Watson. Picture: NEIL RICHARDSON

Son Paul, husband Russell and son Wayne with photographs of Pauline Watson. Picture: NEIL RICHARDSON


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