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Love of kids keeps Waukegan crossing guard going

Waukegan Wednesday 09.19.12. Crossing guard Tommie Cosby survivor three types cancer helps cross 4th grader TóneishUsher 9 while intersectiMcAree Road

Waukegan Wednesday 09.19.12. Crossing guard Tommie Cosby, a survivor of three types of cancer, helps cross 4th grader Tóneisha Usher, 9, while at the intersection of McAree Road and Glen Flora Avenue near Glenwood Elementary School on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in Waukegan. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media

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September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month

Prostate Cancer: One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime; most common cancer type in American men other than skin cancer

Throat Cancer: More than 25,000 new cases to be diagnosed in 2012

Esophagus Cancer: About 17,460 new cases to be diagnosed in 2012; 15 to 20 percent patients survive five years past diagnosis

Sources: American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute

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Updated: November 21, 2012 2:02AM

WAUKEGAN — Come rain or shine, cancer treatments or unsafe drivers, Tommie Cosby is going to shepherd kids across the street in his capacity as a crossing guard.

Cosby, 67, retired in 2003 from Abbott Laboratories after a 25-year career working in the company’s service center. That’s when he decided to become a crossing guard for Waukegan public schools.

“To be a good crossing guard, first of all, you’ve got to love kids. I think that’s one of the keys,” Cosby said.

He escorts kids across the intersection of Glen Flora Avenue and McAree Road so they can get to Glenwood Elementary School. He has been at this location for about three of the eight years he has been a crossing guard.

He has not missed a day of work in at least two years, despite his continuing fight against cancer.

In 2000, Cosby was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

In 2002, Cosby was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

In 2010, Cosby was diagnosed with throat cancer.

“I’m not going to let the word ‘cancer’ kill me,” Cosby said. “I got away from the word. I have a positive attitude because anything can kill you.”

He was speaking from experience.

Cars have come close to running him over several times. A car crashed into a traffic signal at the intersection, missing him and some children by a few feet, Cosby recalled.

“A lot of drivers have disregard. They’re in a hurry to get kids to school and we’re slow (to cross the street),” Cosby said.

He was pleased to report that nobody has been harmed under his watch. He estimated that he helps upward of 50 children cross the street on a daily basis.

He schedules his cancer treatments for the daytime so he can be there for the kids before and after school. So far, he has gone through more than 100 chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“The kids give me something to look forward to,” Cosby said.

Fourth-grader Tóneisha Usher, 9, described Cosby as a “good” crossing guard. Her aunt, Ruby Bryant of Waukegan, said he was “excellent.

“He really cares about the children. You can tell by his performance,” Bryant said.

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