Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver - author, editor, and publisher of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan. We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also publish genres of healing and wellness, humour, children's fiction, and rural poetry. Visit our website to learn more about our books.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seven-time cancer survivor is in remission!!!

In December 2009, Saskatchewan resident Dionne Warner was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in her liver, lungs and bones. These were her fifth, sixth and seventh cancer diagnoses since 1995. She'd already overcome breast, brain and two bouts of liver cancer. But strong, beautiful, fun-loving Dionne did not let this news destroy her sense of humour or her incredible will to live.

Dionne went into her first chemotherapy treatment in December 2009 with attitude! After volunteering for the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina for the previous seven years, sharing her story of survival and hope with patients and their families, Dionne decided she had to continue to share that message even though she was now a patient again. She put on a 'Cancer Sucks' T-shirt, some white war paint and became the Pink Warrior, morphing into Warner Warrior 'D' as time when on.

Within a few treatments, she added costumes for Graham as well to her weekly chemo treatment 'themes' and the two of them began dancing into chemo to bring hope and laughter to everyone they met.
By December 2011, Dionne and Graham had presented 77 different themes and brought hope to hundreds of patients and supporters - through their volunteering in the community and with the help of our book Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope by Deana J. Driver. Buy the Never Leave Your Wingman book!



Shortly after Graham wooed Dionne to Regina from Toronto in 2001, she was diagnosed with liver cancer. They were engaged to be married, but Dionne told Graham he did not have to marry her now that she was sick again - she would return to her family and oncologists in Ontario and he could carry on with his life. An experienced pilot, Graham quickly replied: "You never leave your wingman."

He has been by her side ever since and they have fought these cancer battles together, with all the courage and gusto befitting world-class champions!

Immediately after Dionne's Stage IV diagnosis in 2009, Graham began researching options for treatment besides the chemotherapy that Dionne would need. They visited a doctor of natural medicine in Regina and were given information about a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico where Dionne could receive complementary treatment that involved a special diet and heating her blood to kill cancer cells. They travelled to Mexico twice and kept Dionne on a special diet along with natural supplements and chemotherapy treatments throughout the past two years.

In December 2010, Dionne was taken off chemotherapy for eight weeks - to give her body a break and to be able to take a PET scan (positron emission tomography) which is more detailed than a CT scan in finding cancer cells.

On January 24, 2011, her oncologist told her the PET scan results. There are NO CANCER CELLS anywhere! She is in remission!!! Read the Regina Leader-Post.article on this walking miracle!

So, in the spirit of never-ending hope, we celebrate this wonderful news about this amazing, incredible woman and her never-failing wingman ....

Cancer can be beaten! Together, we can win this battle!  Woo Hoo!!!


P.S. Dec. 2014 update - In April 2012, Dionne went back to her volunteering at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Unfortunately, in August 2012, cancer was detected in her liver. This was the fourth liver cancer diagnosis for her. Dionne was signing Never Leave Your Wingman books with me at the hospital gift shop the very next day. She had not even given herself a full 24 hours this time to let the diagnosis sink in. Her immediate reaction this time was: “It’s only one cancer this time, not four. They did not say ‘Stage 4’, and it’s not in my brain – so bring it on!” She has been in treatment since then. By August 2014, her tumours had shrunk by 35% and then a further 40%.` Way to go, Dionne!
You might also enjoy this November 2014 blog post about a recent cancer awareness campaign at which Dionne was centre stage.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Paralympian nominated for Sports Award

Saskatchewan Paralympian Colette Bourgonje, the inspiring subject of Mary Harelkin Bishop's book Moving Forward, is one of three women nominated for Female Athlete of the Year for the 2011 Saskatchewan Sports Award!

Congratulations, Colette!

Colette Bourgonje was Saskatchewan’s lone Paralympian in 2010 who, on March 14, won Canada’s first medal at the 2010 Paralympic Games in Whistler. She finished the Games with two medals - a silver and bronze in cross-country sit-ski events - and also received the prestigious Whang Young Dai award for the women who most embodies the spirit of the Paralympic Games.

In June 1980, Colette was in her final year of high school in Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan. Her family’s home was filled with medals and trophies that she had earned in track and field, basketball, volleyball and badminton and she was well on her way to becoming a world-class athlete. Her name was being mentioned for athletic scholarships to American universities and colleges, but Colette wanted to run on the University of Saskatchewan track team and become a Physical Education teacher in her home province.

Then a car accident just two months before her Grade 12 graduation changed everything. Her back was broken. Her spine was 98% severed. She would never be able to run again.

Colette Bourgonje had always been a spirited girl with boundless energy and a will to succeed. Within a short time, she was adjusting to her new circumstances as a paraplegic and pursuing different dreams. She enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan and in 1984, she became the first disabled student to graduate from the school’s College of Physical Education and the first female student in a wheelchair to graduate in Physical Education from any Canadian university. Not satisfied with just one degree, Colette pursued a Bachelor of Education and graduated as a teacher a short time later.
She discovered the world of wheelchair racing and quickly excelled at that sport. Cross-country sit-skiing was next on her list of challenges, and Colette was soon a world-class athlete in that sport as well. While working as an elementary school teacher in Saskatoon part-time, Colette continued to pursue her love of sports. In 1992, at age 30, she competed in her first Paralympic Games as a cross-country sit-skier. A few months later, she competed in her second Paralympic Games, as a wheelchair racer.
Since then, Colette Bourgonje has become one of Canada's most successful disabled athletes. As a teacher and world-class competitor, she is a role model and an inspiration. She put her teaching career on hold to work towards her ninth Paralympic Games in 2010. And as usual, Colette triumphed against the odds.

  Colette Bourgonje competing at the 2010 Paralympic Games in Whistler.

Mary Harelkin Bishop is a Saskatoon teacher who has been so inspired by Colette Bourgonje’s triumphs and struggles that she wrote Colette’s story to honour her perseverance, dedication and optimistic spirit.

Mary Harelkin Bishop signing books with Colette Bourgonje at the launch of Moving Forward, Sask Pavilion, 2010 Games.

Paralympian Colette Bourgonje (centre) happily shares her 2010 Games bronze and silver medals with Moving Forward publisher Deana Driver (left) and author Mary Harelkin Bishop (right).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Praise for the story

      Al and I were in Wynyard last Saturday night for the Prairie Women On Snowmobiles’ Shades of Pink fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. We had a lot of fun and made some new friends. I was invited to be the guest speaker, sharing information on the Never Leave Your Wingman book I wrote about seven-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner and her supportive, fun-loving husband Graham. Dionne was away, sitting on a warm beach in Los Cabos, during a break from her chemo treatments or she would have been there to speak in person about her story of hope. So I was honoured to fill in for her.
      I received many compliments about my speech afterwards. One of the best compliments came when I told a woman, “I hope you enjoy the book,” and she replied: “I will enjoy it. If your writing is like your speaking, I am sure it will be very good.”

Other things that happened there:

-        As we walked in, a teenage girl asked me, “Would like a lei?” It made me smile, but I was a little puzzled when Al was not given the same offer. (He was one of only six men in a roomful of 200 women, so it kind of made sense but still...) Later in the evening, Sheila Doidge Campbell, (who had invited me based on meeting Dionne and Graham and Al and me at the town's Swim For Life fundraising event in July) asked Al why he didn’t have a lei. Al replied that he didn’t think a 13-year-old girl would be very comfortable asking him if he 'wanted a lei,' nor would he have been in accepting said offer. So Sheila gave Al one lei for himself and another for me... and joked about how she had lei'd him and all the other men there that night (Prairie humour - we thought it was very funny!) When Al told her that I already had a lei, she told him to keep the extra one… so here we are - after getting lei'd in Wynyard...

 I got lei’d once at the event and then that Al got lei’d twice.
At least I thought it was funny.

-         A woman came into the event happily holding up her copy of Never Leave Your Wingman, ready for me to sign it. Her 49-year-old brother had died of lung cancer in May only five months after diagnosis. He had never smoked a day in his life. It was sad. She said she was so glad when she found out I would be there so I could sign her copy. “It was an incredible book. I couldn’t put it down. I read it over and over, then picked it up and read parts of it again. Very inspiring. I’m so glad that the two of you (Dionne and I) got together. It’s so much inspiration for so many people.” She had also read the Never Give Up book I wrote about Ted Jaleta. “It’s very good.”
-         A woman who had purchased  a copy of Wingman at the Swim For Life there in July said she had read it in one day. “I don’t read very much but I couldn’t put it down.”

-        As we were leaving to head back to Regina that night, Sheila and I exchanged hugs and agreed to keep in touch. Then she added, “And you tell that Dionne girl to keep fighting!”

Absolutely. Dionne and all of her Angel Network of supporters wouldn't have it any other way.
Thank you, ladies of Wynyard and area! It was a great event and I'm sure we'll see you again.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More Never Leave Your Wingman books ordered!

We`ve just ordered more copies of Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner`s Story of Hope by Deana J. Driver! The first printing is almost sold out after only six months!

It`s very exciting to know that people are enjoying this fascinating true story. It`s even better knowing that Dionne and Graham Warner`s journey of courage, hope and love - in the face of Dionne`s seventh cancer diagnosis - is helping so many people.

Thank you to everyone who has read this amazing book so far. We invite those of you who wish to order Never Leave Your Wingman to order a signed copy (signed by author Deana Driver as well as by Dionne and Graham) from our website:

If you wish, you can post your positive comments about the book on our DriverWorks Ink Facebook page or you can post a favourable review or rate the book (five stars would be lovely, thanks) on the Chapters Indigo website - the main Canadian bookstore that is selling the book.

Here an excerpt from the Never Leave Your Wingman book:
On Wednesday evening, March 28, 2001 the emergency-room doctor came into Dionne’s room and she knew immediately that something was wrong. The doctor quickly noticed that Graham was not in the room and asked Dionne, ‘Where is your fiancĂ©?’
Dionne had insisted that Graham keep with his regular Wednesday evening schedule and have supper with his children. “He was hesitant to go but I told him, ‘Just go. I’ll be fine on my own. This is time with your kids and it is very important for you to do this.’ ”
When Dionne told the doctor that Graham was out with his children, the doctor said he’d come back later when Graham was there, but Dionne would not hear of it. “I said, ‘No, you obviously came in to tell me something.’
“He said, ‘I don’t think you should be alone when I tell you this.’
“I said, ‘Just tell me, so I can have some time to go through this myself to figure out what I’m going to do next.’ I knew it could not be good news.”
Finally, the doctor relented and told Dionne that he still could not find out what was causing her pain, “but with this one other test that I did, I did not expect to find what I did.”
“Well, what is it?” Dionne asked him.
“You have liver cancer.”...
… When Graham returned after supper, Dionne told him the news. It was one of the most memorable moments of her life. “I told him that he didn’t have to marry me. I would go back to Ontario. My family was there and I’d be okay. He didn’t have to worry about this and take all of this on himself. And Graham, the man that he is, said, ‘You never leave your wingman.’
“It took my breath away. He told me, ‘I could get sick with cancer. Would you leave me?’ I said, ‘No – but women are wired differently.’ ”
Graham repeated, “I’m not going anywhere. We’ll get through this together.”
Dionne called her family again and told them she would not be moving back to Ontario. “I’m going to stick it out here. Graham and I will get through this together. We’re going to find a good doctor here to look after me.’
“I knew I’d be okay,” she says. “Regina would be my new home and I’d be okay.”

Author Deana Driver (left) with Dionne and Graham Warner