My mother Marion Smeaton had to have courage for a very long time. It started when my father was killed by a drunk driver. She showed courage by raising her three daughters with the passion and love for life that my father had so that was not lost on our lives.
Mom should have been enjoying this achievement when she suffered an aortic aneurysm requiring emergency surgery. She was taken to UHN’s Toronto General Hospital. She fought to stay alive. We were so grateful to UHN who made sure we did not lose another parent far too early in life.
My mom made sure she made her time count travelling, watching us get married and enjoying her grandchildren. Upon returning from a trip to Hawaii an annual CT scan showed the aortic aneurysm returned and she required life-saving surgery a second time.
Once again UHN came to the rescue. With the fantastic surgical skills of Dr. Tirone David we were able to continue to have the blessing of more time with mom.
Years later routine surgery at Toronto Western Hospital found more devastating news, she had a rare form of cancer - mesothelioma. Princess Margaret’s Dr. Leighl came to her aid with experimental cancer drugs. Instead of living the expected one to three years, Mom survived for more than seven years.
Throughout all of this my mom remained positive, upbeat and hopeful.
That she could live this way day-in-day-out was amazing. Even a few hours before she died she was doing Tai Chi moves in her bed.
I only hope that I can have that same courage in my own life. Thank you UHN for the chance to share her exceptional story and to have her in my family’s lives as long as we did.
Leah Smeaton is a Kinesiologist/Return-to-Work Coordinator at Altum Health, University Health Network.