In 2000, Ev McDowell was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. This is a cancer of the plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that makes antibodies. Multiple myeloma causes abnormal plasma cells to multiply uncontrollably in the bone marrow and “crowd out” other types of cells that our body needs to be healthy.
At the time of Ev’s diagnosis, the life expectancy for patients with this disease was only three to five years. Today, thanks to the team at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), Ev has been in remission for almost 19 years.
Lynn Danby was enjoying retirement life with her husband of 40 years and her grandchildren when a chronic runny nose prompted a visit to her doctor.
It was the fall of 2013 when Lynn noticed that her nose had been running a lot, she assumed it was nothing serious but thought it was best to mention it to her doctor and see if there was anything they could recommend for her. Her doctor recognized that this wasn’t just a common cold, and ordered a scan for Lynn. The result that came back shocked Lynn - cancer. A sinus tumour. Lynn’s doctor said that if they had found the…
The Power of Preparation: Darren Ross's Story
Darren Ross was looking forward to a vacation in Amsterdam he had booked for his 50th birthday. What he didn’t expect was the cancer diagnosis he received just days before his trip.
He had no symptoms to warn him – it was a routine physical that brought it to light. Once men reach 50, it’s common practice to get bloodwork and a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test done. Generally speaking, PSA levels below a 4.0 are considered normal. Darren’s PSAs came back at 25.
“It didn’t really mean anything to me at first,” says Darren. “But I quickly found out 25 is a pretty…
Port Elgin’s Jody Mahon has a strong reason to advocate for clinical trials.
“If I hadn’t participated in the COMET trial, I don’t think I would be here today,” she says.
COMET is an international clinical trial, led here in London by Dr. David Palma and partially funded by generous donors, which tests stereotactic radiation – high-dose radiation targeted to specific spots – in patients who have had cancer spread to other areas of the body. This was unfortunately the case for Jody, who has been battling metastatic breast cancer since 2012.
Sidney Robertson knows what it is to struggle with mental health. She also knows the power of sharing her story with others.
One October day during her grade 11 year, a vicious act of domestic violence left Sidney and her family reeling with shock, confusion, and long-lasting mental trauma. With events unfolding at such a rapid pace, Sidney didn’t immediately recognize the impact her situation was having on her. Between speaking with authorities and visiting the hospital, Sidney did her best to remain involved in school and her community. At the time, those came as…
The Slightest Change in Routine: Candis Leyser's Story
An amazing husband, three wonderful children, a love of plants and great wine to top it off, Candis Leyser has a cup-half-full way of looking at life. However, the discovery of a lump in her breast, thanks to the slightest switch up in her morning shower routine, threatened to knock over her very full cup.
Initially, Candis tried to ignore the suspicious looking skin-coloured lump. But, Scott – her partner and sounding board – assured his wife she was not overreacting and encouraged her to call her doctor right away.
“I didn’t know if it was just my mind…
When Beth French of Kincardine, Ontario became pregnant again; she knew she needed the support of the high-risk maternal fetal medicine team at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).
At 24 weeks into her first pregnancy, Beth developed severe complications. Tragically, her daughter was stillborn.
Though reeling from the loss, Beth and her husband Glen felt incredibly grateful for the care they received. Beth left the hospital clutching a memory box close to her chest, which had been caringly created by LHSC staff and volunteers.
In the spring of 2018, Beth was…
Maria Curcio says she remembers the exact moment she was told she had ovarian cancer. Or rather, she remembers not remembering anything. The world around her went blank. As a healthy 46-year-old with no family history of cancer, Maria had difficulty wrapping her head around the diagnosis. The shock was palpable.
Born and raised in London, Ontario, Maria enjoys a career as a technical writer, breaking down and translating information. And…
Love, Art & Cancer Treatment: Sylvia Curtis-Norcross’s Story
There's an airiness to the way Sylvia Curtis-Norcross speaks, a sort of patient reserve. A 54-year-old child of the arts, Sylvia has spent her career in various educational departments helping others tap into their more creative sides. Be it war veterans in Parkwood Hospital’s art program, or kids from all walks of life, Sylvia connects to people by way of the imagination. But reality reared its ugly head in 2019 when she was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. It began with a general sense of feeling unwell.
“I thought maybe I should exercise more, so I started to run.…
Chad Gibbons was just 21 years old when he experienced kidney failure, and had to be put on the transplant list.
In the winter of 1999, Chad began experiencing extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, and trouble sleeping. His family doctor referred him to a kidney specialist in Windsor, Chad’s hometown, who confirmed that Chad’s kidney was failing. This was especially concerning because Chad was born with only one kidney.
He remembers how he felt after receiving his diagnosis: “At first it was nice to have an explanation of what was happening to…
Don Brough's Story
Five years ago, Don Brough’s medical journey took a dramatic turn. After undergoing a routine check for prostate cancer based on his family’s history, Don’s results came back indicating he had also developed the disease. Immediately, his physician in Owen Sound referred him to London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) for evaluation and treatment.
"I was amazed at how quickly my situation was addressed by everyone in our regional health care system,” Don says. “These people are very caring and professional…
Worrying Symptoms for Mom-to-be: Odion Aburime’s Story
When you are pregnant, you evolve in many incredible and necessary ways. Your body expands but so does your heart’s capacity to love. Odion Aburime had navigated these changes once before and she was excited to welcome her second child to the world, introducing it to family get-togethers full of games, sing-alongs and movie nights. However, a simple load of laundry caused her heart to race to such an extent that the soon-to-be mom had to lay on the floor to avoid passing out.
Recognizing the pounding in her chest as a palpitation and afraid for the life of her baby, Odion went…
Melissa Selmes was a 31-year-old new mother when she was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer. Originally given just one year to live, Melissa and her medical team at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) have fought to get her to where she is now – cancer free.
Melissa’s story began in 2010 when she was pregnant with her daughter. As her daughter grew inside of her, so did an ovarian cyst. When the time came for Melissa to have her C-section, the cyst had grown to an 18-lb tumour. Her doctors removed the tumour, along with her right ovary. The tumour was tested, and…
Neil Tull's Story
Sometimes an illness will reveal itself in dramatic fashion. Pain or discomfort might bring someone to their family doctor, leading to a diagnosis. Other times it can come with a whisper—like a secret the body is itching to tell. This was how Neil Tull learned of his cancer.
For 25 years, Neil enjoyed a career as Executive Vice President of Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital (TDMH). After retiring in 1996, he and his wife, Betty, bought a farm nestled between Tillsonburg and Aylmer. Over the years, he developed a passion for horseback riding and began entering reined cow…
Banking on Discovery | Dale E. Creighton Brain & BioBank
The crowd waits with the players below, all in formation, crouched into statues of potential energy. The centre looks left, then right. Finally, the snap. An explosion of movement ripples across the field. Dale Creighton, Western Mustangs’ all-star fullback, takes off in his headlong fashion. He lowers his head and charges through his opponents. When the play ends, he does not get up.
Dale E. Creighton was a gifted athlete, but his aggressive running style also led to 13 concussions on the gridiron. And in the 1950s, our understanding of concussions wasn’t what it is today.…
Third-year mechanical engineering student, Adam Keller, had many hopes and dreams for his future. Surrounded by friends, a loving family, and a passion for design work, his life was turned upside down on his 21st birthday. “There was quite a while where I had a lump on my neck, but I didn’t think anything of it because it was not painful,” Adam recalls.
It wasn’t until Adam started experiencing back pain that kept him up at night which motivated him to book an appointment with his doctor. His doctor performed a series of tests and ordered a biopsy for the lump on Adam’s neck. For…
Cameron Smith's Story
Cameron Smith played football for years, in excruciating pain and limited hip mobility - little did he know, he had an undiagnosed condition known as hip impingement, resulting in torn cartilage. But luckily, last year, he went to Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic for help.
Now, six months after his second surgery, Cameron is happy to say he’s going to play as an offensive lineman for St. Francis Xavier, without the pain he’d lived with for as long as he could remember. “I couldn’t be happier with my treatment and two surgeries done at Fowler Kennedy. Every day I felt…
A Helping Hand in the Darkest Hour
Words can’t quite describe the impact of the Mental Health Patient Assistance Fund, which is 100 per cent donor funded. For those on the receiving end, this fund can be life-saving.
Jake was already a patient of LHSC’s Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychoses (PEPP) when he came home from a group session to find his mother had died by suicide in the apartment they shared together. Reeling, he immediately called PEPP. Not only did the program provide psychological and emotional support during this unbelievably traumatic time, but also financial support through…
Andy Lam's Story
On the evening of September 4, 2019, Andy Lam experienced the worst headache of his life. He went to bed and woke up the next morning in even more pain. Luckily, he managed to call 911 for help before he passed out, and the paramedics arrived just in time.
Andy, who works in the CoreLab at London Health Science Centre (LHSC), suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm. A brain aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery found in a person’s brain. Aneurysms can grow large and rupture, releasing blood into the space around the brain. This bleed can be…
Paying Forward the Kindness of Strangers
Sometimes the smallest gesture can have the greatest impact. For Carol Weekes Schacter, it was a brief moment five years ago at LHSC’s London Regional Cancer Program (LRCP).
Carol’s sister Judy was undergoing treatment for an aggressive brain tumour known as a glioblastoma and had her head shaved for brain surgery. Carol wanted to get her sister a nice wig, but knew Judy would prefer to pay for it herself; however, Judy was experiencing some financial challenges. Carol explained her sister’s situation to a volunteer at LRCP as she was perusing the wig selection. At the same…
Six years ago, Emily Marshall began noticing a pain in her right arm. An avid rugby player with a black belt in Taekwondo, she was familiar with muscle aches and sprains—this was different. X-Rays came back inconclusive. Physiotherapy didn’t seem to help, either.
“All my friends started to notice how I had this arm that was sore all the time,” Emily says. “I was dropping things and losing function in it.”
Eventually, the pain grew unbearable and she found herself in the Emergency Department at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). She was in tears…
Fowler Kennedy gets varsity soccer player game ready
When a knee injury almost ended Tiffany’s varsity soccer career, the team at Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic (FKSMC) created a care plan to get her back to where she belongs.
Before she came to London for university, Tiffany tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – one of the key ligaments that help stabilize the knee joint – and received reconstruction surgery in Toronto. But Tiffany was still in pain while playing for Western University’s varsity soccer team.
“I had recovered from my first surgery already, but my range of motion was awful,” Tiffany says…
Murray Jones remembers his first experience at the Hospital after moving to London with his wife. In 1977 they started their family and only a few years later, their young son was hospitalized after suffering a broken leg.
“My son fell off a climber and broke his femur when was only three years old. I stayed at the hospital every night for the first few weeks to comfort him. They put him in a cast from chest to toes,” he recalls. “He's 35 years old now and can't remember which leg it was!”
This was far from the last time Murray would spend at the hospital. And…
When Randy Bowden lost his taste buds, he says it was one of the lowest points in his life.
It may seem like an insignificant side effect, given other complications that can come with cancer treatments. Yet to someone who cared so much about food, it was worse than the cancer diagnosis itself.
“Even when I found out I had head and neck cancer, it was not as bad as when I found out that I could not taste anything,” he said, recalling the sadness he felt. “And they couldn’t tell me when it was going to come back or if it was going to come back.”
"My surgery was December 19th, and I was home by Christmas Eve." - Cindy Waddick
It was like an elephant sitting on her chest. That’s how Cindy Waddick described the feeling of her heart attack, days before Dr. Chu would perform a complex surgery to save her life. Cindy was discharged on Christmas Eve. She was able to spend the holidays at home with her family and new fiancé. Listen to Cindy recant her story below.