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Comox comedian copes with cancer and dementia through laughter


Syd Bosel was in the midst of a year-long motorcycle camping trip around Australia when she happened upon a handsome local.

“He had blue eyes, a beard,” Syd says, before revealing Ron’s most attractive quality with a laugh. “[He had] a Coleman stove!”

While her campsite cooking improved, their connection proved incomparable.

“In hindsight,” Syd says, “I realized that I had not been in love with someone who loved me at the same time.”

Although it couldn’t have been more disappointing when the pair had to separate for Syd to travel to her next destination, it couldn’t have been more wonderful when they unexpectedly reunited.

Ron had gone searching for Syd. And despite this taking place before internet, he found her.

After spending three more magical months together, Ron proposed at a pub.

“And I looked at the waitress, and said, ‘What do you think?’” Syd recalls with a laugh. “She just shrugged and I said, ‘OK’!”

Both Syd and Ron said 'I do' in a wedding ceremony staged in a cave 18 metres underground.

“It was really cool,” Syd says, showing pictures of the couple posing beside stalactites hanging from the cave. “We used to be really cool.”

But after Ron emigrated to Canada and they started a family, “cool” was replaced by convention, which started to feel confining.

So when Syd happened to notice an advertisement for a night-school stand-up comedy class, she enrolled.

“I was more at ease there than I had been in many years,” Syd says. “It was profound.”

But comedy’s late-night schedule didn’t work with Syd’s daytime responsibilities so she paused pursuing her passion for decades. Until cancer threatened to end her life.

“I don’t know how long I’ve got to do stuff I really like doing,” Syd recalls thinking. “So I better get on that.”

So Syd, who had always been naturally funny, started studying the craft of comedy, which eventually led to winning awards, performing professionally, and touring across the country.

After she was declared cancer-free, Syd started including jokes about her cancer journey in her stand-up routine — making light of a dark time.

“And still when I do those jokes, and people applauded me for it,” Syd starts crying, "it still gets to me.”

Syd didn’t tell any cancer jokes when she wowed the judges during her first appearance on Canada’s Got Talent. But after her audition, she did reveal that Ron had been diagnosed with dementia.

Ron, who was watching in the audience, couldn’t have been more proud and says he couldn’t be more supportive of Syd sharing their story.

“I want to do a [comedy] show called ‘This Isn’t Your Grandma’s Dementia’ because I have so many people who come up to me and say, ‘I know how you feel my grandma has dementia,” Syd says. “It’s way different when your partner has dementia. Way different.”

And Syd has learned that in order to be the best caregiver for your partner, you must also take the best care of yourself. For Syd, that’s doing stand-up.

“You still have to figure out a way to do the stuff that makes you happy,” she says.

It’s said comedy is tragedy plus time. Although not enough time has past to include dementia in her routine, Syd says now was the perfect time for her and Ron to revisit Australia.

They could express their gratitude for that time a Canadian on a motorcycle met a blue-eyed local with a beard, and fell in love over a Coleman stove.

“Have fun and do stuff you want to do now,” Syd says. “Because you don’t know when you’re not going to have a chance to do it.” Top Stories

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