Editor's note: Identities have been protected in this story in the interests of privacy.
When Wendy E. saw her sister walk through the door at the Cornwall Community Hospital three years ago she finally felt an inner strength that had been lacking for years - probably even decades.
Wendy is an alcoholic, and this trip to the hospital would mark yet another attempt at suicide. Fortunately the alcohol and prescription medication she took had not had the desired effect.
And as she lied in the hospital bed, taking stock of what had to that point been a fairly disappointing life, an estranged sister she had not seen in nearly 15 years walked through the door.
It was at that point that Wendy had reached bottom, and began the long struggle out of the hole into which she had poured litres and litres of beer, rye and vodka.
"I knew I was going to die," she said in an interview. "I was alone...and there were emotional issues that were never dealt with.
"At the time I just wanted to give up on life because I didn't want to live with the pain."
But when her sister made that surprise visit to the hospital, a spark in Wendy grew into a fire.
Wendy made the difficult decision to get sober. There have been very few times in those "three years, four months and a few days" as she puts it, where she hasn't craved another drink.
That's why she goes to as many as four Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings a week - "And on my bad weeks, I go to even more."
Wendy said she finally realized that her drinking and repeated suicide attempts were no longer simply endangering her life.
"My last suicide attempt was almost successful," she said. "I realized that I was hurting everyone around me, and not just myself. My daughter too."
Wendy's drinking began when she was just 13. Now 48, Wendy says too much of her life was missed while consuming alcohol.
And it's also why she advocates on behalf of AA.
"Before coming into the program, the telephone is the heaviest object to pick up," she said. "It will be the most life-changing phone call you can make."
AA is marking 65 years of helping people like Wendy with its annual conference Nov. 2 and 3 at the Ramada Inn in Cornwall.
Wendy is the co-chair of the event, and said the conference offers a large-scale showing of unity and respect.
"What I take away from it is the vast number of people and the support and the camaraderie," she said. "It's hard to explain the spirituality of it. Everyone is on the same level, but they come from different walks of life. They're the same people.
"(You realize) I'm not alone."
The conference is open to the public and begins Nov.2 at 5 p.m. with registration, followed by a banquet and speakers. Nov. 3 is wall-to-wall speakers and fellowship.
Complete details for the conference can be found at www.cornwallaa.com, as well as dates for future AA meetings.
Wendy said a 12-step program can often make the difference between life and death for many people struggling with addiction.
"I still have my days," she said. "But I know I have the tools that the program has taught me.
"I would suggest people reach out to AA. Go to a lot of meetings and get a sponsor and work the program - because it works."