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Courage Award winner

  • Elizabeth "Lee" Bubel Kostin
    Elizabeth "Lee" Bubel Kostin
Published April 10. 2010 09:00AM

Elizabeth "Lee" Bubel Kostin is battling cancer and regularly receives chemotherapy.

Bet you can't guess what she does after each chemo treatment?

She drives to work where it's business as usual.

Oh, and by the way, Lee is 85 years old.

She owns and operates Kostin's Notary Service along Route 309 in Hometown. She has full-time hours there and hasn't let her cancer get in the way of business.

"The only effect I ever had (from the chemotherapy) was an iron taste in my mouth," she said. "I couldn't eat right and I lost 32 pounds."

On Sunday, the spunky Schuylkill County woman will be honored by the Tamaqua-Schuylkill Chapter of the American Cancer Society with a "Courage Award." She's one of three award recipients.

The awards will be presented during the annual telecast of the ACS telethon which will air from noon to midnight today and tomorrow, with the award presentations set for early Sunday evening.

Lee has owned and operated Kostin's Notary Service for 56 years. After driving daily from Brockton to her notary office, she works 9-5 hours, besides working evenings and weekends by appointment from her home. Even on Christmas Day, she did notary work for a woman who bought a car.

"I don't trust anyone else's driving," she stated concerning her motoring skills.

For most of her life, Lee was in great health.

She attributes her long period of good health to hard work and eating right.

"We didn't eat garbage," she said. "My mom cooked the right way. I never had a can of soup in my life."

The daughter of the late Michael and Mary Bresnie Bubel, Lee lives in the same house in which she was born in Brockton.

She's one of eight children. Her living siblings are sisters Mary Bubel Morgan and Theresa Bubel Pilo, both of Brockton, and a brother John F. Bubel who lives with his wife Florence in Tamaqua.

She was married for 40 years to the late Joseph P. Kostin, who died in 1994 at the age of 77, and together they owned and operated an auto dealership in Hometown.

Lee said that even snow and ice won't keep her from coming to work or going for her chemo treatments. She's been receiving chemo for 1 1/2 years, and the only noticeable effect is on her voice, which gets hoarse after getting the treatments.

While most of her life has been healthy, she began having some problems in the past few years.

Six years ago, a cyst was found in her breast which she said was suspicious. She received 32 radiation treatments for it, but it was not found to be cancerous.

For 10 years she helped her wheelchair-bound husband who lost both legs to diabetes. That had an impact on her knees and she needed two knee replacements.

One day, after getting home from therapy for the knee replacements, she put her hands on the back of her neck, felt a lump, and immediately contacted her surgeon.

A biopsy proved it was cancerous so efforts were made to shrink the lump. The physician said he couldn't operate on the lump because it was too close to her throat.

Various types of chemo were tried, but the cancer has spread from the neck to her throat and lungs.

Still, she's optimistic that she can defeat the cancerous cells. She feels the chemo will help her.

"He said it will take a little while," she said of the surgeon.

As she awaits for the nasty cells to be vanquished, she continues processing car titles and doing her other notary paperwork.

Lee graduated from Blythe Township High School in 1942. She took a test with the Social Security Administration after graduation and was immediately offered a job in the Baltimore office.

On the day she received notice of the job offer, her father suffered a stroke. This forced her to stay home and help her mother care for him and the siblings.

For 10 years, Lee was diligent in caring for her father.

Until the knee replacement, Lee never had previous surgery or been hospitalized.

After they found her cancer, she suffered from a heart attack. She spent 57 days in the hospital as a result of the combination of cancer, knee surgery, and treatment for the heart attack. Much of that time was spent in intensive care.

But she was back to work as soon as she was discharged.

Her chemo regiment consists of getting treatments for three consecutive weeks, then having two weeks off.

"It's lucky I have hospitalization," she said, regarding her recent health obstacles.

Nothing, however, seems to be able to stop her - or even slow her down.

On Easter Sunday, she had 10 relatives at her house for a home-made dinner that she cooked.

She considers her cancer a mystery, since she never smoked, nor did anyone else in her house.

Even with the cancer, she remains positive.

"I feel good. I haven't had a pain in my life since I have it," she said.

She also has no plans of retiring.

Her notary commission expires in 2013.

"I will renew it," she said.

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