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News writers named best in nation

Cancer feature series that ran last April wins national award

May 01, 2012 06:00 am | News staff

Westlock News editor Doug Neuman and former staffer Tim Bryant have won the top prize in a national newspaper competition for a feature series that ran April 2011 as part of Cancer Awareness Month.

The series won first place in the Best Feature Series category for newspapers with a circulation under 3,999.

Finalists for the prize were announced earlier in the spring and the winners were named last Thursday night at the annual Canadian Community Newspaper Association awards gala in Toronto.

“Kudos to Doug and Tim on this prestigious honour — winning a national award is a career highlight for any journalist,” said News publisher George Blais. “I know both put a lot of time and effort into the series and it’s nice to see their efforts have been recognized.”

The first of the three stories featured Lori Rakowski, a Westlock-area resident who beat both leukemia and breast cancer. It outlined the challenges she faced as a young adult fighting cancer.

The second story was about the Boulerice family, and the struggles they faced when their five-year-old daughter Kali succumbed to a brain tumour after a two-year battle.

The third and final story looked at cancer from the perspective of caregivers, telling the story of cancer treatment from the perspective of Donna Nelson, a registered nurse at the Barrhead Health Care Centre who works with cancer patients.

Neuman said given the intensely personal nature of the stories involved in the series, it’s humbling to have the work recognized by his peers.

“The people who really deserve the recognition are the ones who shared their stories with us,” he said. “It’s not easy talking about the personal battles we have fought or the loved ones we have lost, but these are stories that need to be told.”

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