A year ago in April, my husband began experiencing headaches. They came and went but while we were in Jamaica for a wedding, the dizzy spells and smell of ether overcame him. Finally on Mother’s day, the headaches became unbearable. This lasted 10 days. At first the walk-in doctor gave him migraine meds. I too suffer from migraines and knew it wasn’t that simple because no headache lasts that long. I sent him back to the walk-in clinic and they immediately sent him to St. Joseph’s Hospital to emergency where he was transferred to Sunnybrook Hospital. It was there that we found out that our lives would change forever….
He was diagnosed with Glioblastoma. The same cancer that Gord Downie had. Currently, there is no cure but Sunnybrook is at the forefront of Brain Cancer research in North America. Dwayne underwent brain surgery 5 days later under the trust of Dr. Yang.(who is brilliant…he has over 25 patents on microscopic cameras that are fed into blood vessels to assist in these types of intricate surgeries.) After 4 hours of surgery, he emerged ever so funny…if you know him, he’s got a sense of humour…no side effects, no brain damage…just a really cool scar.
The aftercare at Sunnybrook was incredible unlike most hospital experiences due to the nurses Dwayne had. We met a fellow whose name is Dr. Ironside. She is the first doctor to participate in the new program at Sunnybrook with thanks to Gord Downie and the Hip’s donations. Dr. Ironside was in the O.R during my husband’s surgery and it was she who gave us the news that they had removed 92% of his tumour.
I have never known ANYONE to gain VIP access to a CANCER ward…within 2 weeks, Dwayne was labeled the most favourite patient at the Odette Cancer center. He had won the hearts of the radiologists so much by bringing them joy and smiles that one nurse came and told me that “he’s our favourite patient..we’re supposed to make HIM smile but he brings US smiles”…melt my heart..
We were scheduled to get married August long weekend. Dwayne had 8 weeks to recover and had to undergo 6 weeks of daily chemotherapy AND radiation to treat the remaining cancer cells…and recovered so well & FAST that we were able to enjoy 4 amazing days with our families and friends in Niagara on the lake! Magical is the only word I can find for that weekend as we even had a friend fly in from Australia to join us..
Since last June, Dwayne’s undergone 2 craniotomies and recently had a 3rd surgery because he got an infection in the bone and skin where the incision is. They’ve replaced his skull with titanium mesh and he’s now on 6 weeks of IV antibiotics which are fed through a piccline in his heart that feeds a tube directly to his heart.
With this knowledge and everything that she’s going through at school, home, bullies.. my stepdaughter, Isabel was inspired to write a letter to her principal asking her if they could dedicate (civvies day) dress down day to Sunnybrook’s Brain Cancer research foundation in her father’s and Gord Downie’s name. They agreed and the Toronto Catholic school board got behind the cause and supported her. TODAY was Brain Cancer Awareness day at her school.. Friday May 25th. Each child will donate $2 to Isabel’s chosen charity which is Gord Downie’s Brain Cancer Research Foundation and in return the children get to wear their civvies BUT are encouraged to wear “grey” which is the colour for brain cancer. She even has sponsors! Special thanks to Elly Mancinelli from TD Wealth, Acme Works & of course AutoOne Leasing!
In addition to this initiative, Isabel also wrote a letter to Mayor John Tory to ask that he also do the same and declare May 27th Brain Cancer awareness day(which is the actual date)..
We are also working on an actual fundraising event for next May 2019 as the past 6 months have been very difficult for our families as we are adjusting to juggling our lives and hospital visits plus 3 surgeries. I am currently working through TD wealth to start a foundation in my husband’s name as well. The Dwayne Andrew’s Brain Cancer Foundation to potentially assist families who have financial difficulty paying for their chemotherapy and other expenses. ie. parking, medications because they don’t have coverage or just can’t afford it. Most people are not as fortunate as we have been to have the family support that we have had and even with that support, the costs have nearly bankrupted us. None of the Chemo which is “outpatient” care is covered by OHIP. Dwayne’s undergone 4 rounds of chemo since this original 6 weeks of treatments with 2 more to go potentially. It costs $26 just to park at the hospital for one day..
It is my hope that maybe we can work together in not letting Gord’s foundation be forgotten and educate and assist others who are affected by brain cancer. It also allows our children to carry on their father’s memory and make an impact such as Gord’s did for ours. We couldn’t have gotten through this past year without the love and support of our family and friends.
We’ve set up a donation page on Sunnybrook’s website. Please share our story and DONATE TO SUNNYBROOK
Brain Cancer Awareness Day
May 27, 2018