Meet Grateful Patients
Brenda

Brenda Thorne

Brenda Thorne is a loving mother, wife, and grandmother. In 2015, Brenda almost lost her life to multiple organ failure. Thanks to the incredible doctors and staff at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) she survived and is back where she belongs – with her family.

For years Brenda had experienced significant fatigue, but she attributed it to her busy lifestyle – teaching, being an organist, as well as the demands that come with motherhood. In 2012, Brenda had developed digestive issues, and with her continued fatigue Brenda decided to seek medical advice. Through testing in…

Ev McDowell

Ev McDowell

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.

Jody Mahon

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. 

The Diagnosis…

Beth's Story

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…

Chad and his parents

Chad Gibbons

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 me, but…

Melissa at Run for Ovarian

Melissa Selmes

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…

Adam Keller

Adam Keller

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…

Cristian

Cristian Castro

In October of 2017, Cristian Castro was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This particular cancer begins in the white blood cells of the lymphatic system and can spread anywhere in the body.

Cristian’s diagnosis came with an 80% chance of survival.

At the time of his diagnosis, Cristian was only 29 years old with a full life ahead of him. Because he was young and lead a healthy, active lifestyle, this life-changing news came as a shock to both him and his family. Although devastated and afraid of the diagnosis, Cristian’s family…

John Oliveira and his wife

John Oliveira

Every year, one in seven men are diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers for Canadian men and the third deadliest. Yet still, many will put their prostate exam on the back burner because of associated stigmas.

Fortunately, this was not the case for John Oliveira, whose diligence in asking for the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test well before the recommended age saved his life.  

A hardworking family man from Wallaceburg, John knew that in order to live a long and healthy life, he needed to take control of his health – even though…

Carol Regts at Run for Ovarian Cancer

Carol Regts

Behind her smiling, bright-eyed, cheerful face is a disease that has deeply affected Carol Regts and her family – ovarian cancer. However with faith, a positive mindset and determination to live her best life, Carol is using her diagnosis as an opportunity to spread the message about early detection and help raise money for research.

In the summer of 2016, Carol began feeling “yucky” all the time. She was lethargic and had no motivation, even to do the things she once loved like volunteering and crafting. She was constantly bloated to the point where…

gord and his wife on the beach

Gord Williamson

The saying ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’ could not be more true for Gord Williamson.

After doctors in Sarnia discovered he had throat cancer, Gord underwent 65 bouts of radiation and more than seven surgeries to save his life. Unfortunately, it left him without a voice. Today, thanks to the Head and Neck Cancer team at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), Gord is talking with the help of a voice prosthesis – and he’s got much more to say.

As a young adult, Gord moved from his hometown of Brampton to Sarnia to pursue post-secondary education. After meeting…

Turnbull Family

Jeff and Heather Turnbull



Prostate cancer is in all-too-common disease, with one in seven men diagnosed in their lifetime. Heather Turnbull was aware of these frightening statistics and convinced her husband to get checked out… just in time. She tells her story:

I can’t tell you enough how important it is to have regular checkups with your doctor. It was a year ago that my husband Jeff went in for surgery for prostate cancer. Make sure your husband, partner, brother,…

martie and her husband hold hands

Martie's Story

Martie Grof-Iannelli is a loving mother, wife and happily retired Librarian and University Instructor. For twenty-three years, she taught in the Master’s program of Library and Information Science at Western, and later became the Senior Manager of Library and Media Services at Fanshawe.

Martie enjoys editing written works in her spare time and has always dreamed of writing her own novel. Eight years ago, cancer was the furthest thing from her mind; little did she know her life would be uprooted with an unexpected cancer diagnosis. Years later, Martie longs to give back by…

emma with her horse

Emma Holden

Emma Holden is a spirited 21-year-old with a big heart. She loves being close to her family, her pets and her friends. So when a friend of Emma’s passed away from suicide four years ago, it was a devastating loss for her. This tragic event opened up many questions for Emma and lead her to learn more about her own struggles with mental health.

Emma struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is very open about her diagnosis. Her hope is to educate others and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“I am definitely a huge advocate for mental…

scott with friend and hockey sticks

Scott Gagnon

Scott Gagnon (left) has had a passion for sports for as long as he can remember. In high school he dedicated his time to a long list of competitive sports, playing hockey, soccer and volleyball almost every day of the week.

It was during high school that Scott, now 26, noticed a growing pain in both of his knees while he was playing sports. Eventually, the pain became so unbearable that he sought help from the professionals at Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic (FKSMC). He began working with Dr. Lisa Fischer, who discovered that he was suffering from Patellofemoral pain…

Vanya Lang

Vanya Lang undergoes a routine heart procedure, but complications occur when her heart begins to bleed. She codes multiple times – going into cardiopulmonary arrest – and needs to be moved to the operating room (OR). Her team wheels her gurney through the hospital, but she is crashing and there’s no time to make it to the OR.

Her surgeon begins operating on her in the elevator while manually pumping her heart with his hand to keep her alive. As she slips into a coma, her family is called to prepare for the worst… this may be the last time they see her. 

Mercifully,…

David and Marilyn Conklin

Sepsis and blood clots are two very different, but very real threats to a person’s health, but now, thanks to a generous donation from David and Marilyn Conklin, new research and treatments are on the horizon for both of these conditions.

David and Marilyn were each faced with a health crisis that required life-saving treatments at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

After their recovery, the couple wanted to thank and acknowledge the hard work of the doctors who saved their lives; Dr. Michael Kovacs and Dr. Tina Mele. To show their appreciation, they decided to make…

Rashad wearing a cranial halo

Rashad Qutob

In 2004, 21-year-old Rashad experienced the scare of a lifetime while driving home to London, from Windsor Ontario. Seemingly out of nowhere, he had experienced his first-ever seizure, and lost control of the wheel while he fell unconscious. Thankfully, his friends in the passenger’s seats were able to stop the car safely without anyone else getting injured. To this day, Rashad has no memory of what happened.

After the terrifying incident, Rashad was referred to London Health Sciences Centre and was later diagnosed with epilepsy. This seemed strange to Rashad since he had never had…

Kirstie Leedham

From as young as four years old, Kirstie Leedham, who grew up in Chatham, remembers climbing into the little storage unit underneath her oldest brother’s bed when she was feeling scared or anxious – the cozy nook would bring a sense of comfort and peace.

More than 20 years later, this pastime would answer many significant questions for Kirstie, who would undergo a long and difficult mental health journey before getting to that point. 

It began with not being able to get out of bed. She slept all day and all night and missed two months of grade seven. Then, she was…

Reta Ismail and her son Nero

Reta Ismail

CTV's Reta Ismail shares her story with London Health Sciences Foundation:

I remember the moment my son Nero was born like it was yesterday. For the first time in my life, I felt my heart beating on the outside. It was truly the best moment of my life being able to hold him in my arms and kissing his little forehead for the very first time.

He will be turning five this coming August and it feels as if time has flown by. I am now pregnant with baby number two. But this is not my second pregnancy. Like many women, I have suffered from pregnancy loss, twice in…

Tony and Marian de Boer

Tony de Boer

Can you imagine travelling out of town for a full hip replacement in the morning and still being home in time for dinner? Tony de Boer experienced this twice – the right hip one year and the left one the next. He shares his story below: 

For me, life is always in motion. Whether it’s riding my snowmobile, travelling with my wife Marian, or running the family business – a physically demanding job in an industrial knitting factory in Exeter – I’m constantly on the go. So when I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my early forties, I was devastated.

At…

Lenore Rawlings

Lenore Rawlings

In the past seven years, Lenore Rawlings has been through one life-threatening health scare after the other. 

In 2011, she and her husband George pulled over near their home in McGregor, Ontario, when a pickup truck that veered off the road struck them. Lenore suffered a blood clot in her lung, which left her in a coma and clinging to life in intensive care.

Coming close to death several times, doctors in Windsor performed six tracheotomies to open her airway. Lenore tenaciously pulled through each trauma, spending four months in the hospital before…

Tyler Bryden

Tyler Bryden

The newest member of the Mental Health Campaign Cabinet at London Health Sciences Foundation (LHSF) is a business owner, philanthropist, hockey player and grateful patient – all at only 25-years-old. 

Just four years ago, Tyler was in a much darker place in his life. After a suicide attempt almost took his life, he reached out from the crushing depression that enveloped him.

“I need help,” he admitted to his family. His mother drove him to Victoria Hospital. 

Years earlier, Tyler’s journey with depression began when he was a child. His home life was…

PEPP Program

Steve's Story

Steve is a 41-year-old Londoner, Western graduate and avid hockey fan. He explains how his favorite team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, has improved over the last few years.

“They’ve been doing well. The old saying goes – if you’ve hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up – and that’s with anything in life.”

Six years ago, Steve experienced rock bottom. His mental health began to deteriorate, and he attempted to take his own life. After a long recovery in hospital, he was referred to London Health Sciences Centre’s PEPP Program (Prevention & Early Intervention…

The Patient Assistance Fund includes complimentary bus tickets

Andrew's Story

When Andrew moved to London from Mississauga to care for his 67-year-old aunt who has Alzheimer’s disease, he found himself in an unpredictable and sometimes chaotic environment. He faced daily responsibilities of housework, cooking and grocery shopping in addition to being on high alert in the event she compromised her own safety, like leaving the stove on. Eventually, Andrew felt overwhelmed and exhausted with no time to pursue a life outside of caring for his aunt.

“There’s a huge strain on me. There’s so many things I desire to do like have a…