Marion was given four hours to live...

Ron and Marion Whiting  

...She beat the odds. Thanks to Bruyère, my honey is home. Read our story below and support Bruyère as much as you can.

--Ron Whiting




Dear Friend,


My wife Marion and I are playing backgammon in the sunroom. The light bounces off the Rideau River and into our home near Merrickville. This is the way we start every day. Retirement is sweet.

Suddenly, Marion starts moving the pieces backwards. I ask her why she’s doing that. She doesn’t even realize what she is doing. Something terrible is happening to my wife.

Worrying, I call 911. Marion starts to get violently ill. The ambulance can’t get here soon enough. I didn’t know it then, but I would learn later that our time together was about to come to an end.

While the emergency room team worked on Marion, the doctor took me aside and said; “She has a brain bleed. She has four hours to live.”

Thankfully the love of my life doesn’t die, but this is the beginning of a dramatic chapter in our lives. A chapter that opens my eyes to all the wonderful people at Bruyère.

This letter is about Bruyère and the lives they change. This is about our community continuing to support Ottawa’s most important hospital for anyone whose life has been challenged by accident, illness or both.

I’m sharing my story with you to encourage you to continue your support of Bruyère. With your help, Bruyère will write many more love stories like ours. If we all come together we will ensure Bruyère continues to be there.

“Bruyère gives us our lives. They do so much for so many.” Years ago my dad was in palliative care at Bruyère. The treatment he got was superb. Like many of us, I thought Bruyère was only about palliative care.

I know now it’s different. I learned the doors at Bruyère swing in and out… Bruyère welcomes you. Bruyère helps get you home!

After the initial “four hour to live” diagnosis, Marion held on. I called my daughter and her husband who rushed to the hospital to be by her side. Five, six hours tick by and Marion was still very much alive.

“What’s next?” I ask the doctor. He then gives her two to three days. Not even a week! I hold Marion’s hand the entire time as she lay there in a coma. I don’t want to lose the woman I first fell in love with on the dance floor at the Riverside Hotel.
Marion is tough. After a few days, she opens her eyes, looks at me and says, “Get me some water.

I’ve never been this thirsty in all my life.” Music to my ears.

Slowly, with the help of physio and dedicated nurses, Marion begins the journey back to her old self. Three months after she was rushed to hospital, we went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. It was one of the best presents I ever received.

By Christmas of 2014, Marion recovered enough to do stairs at home. Her four hours of life expectancy had now grown to eight months. My wife was back. Our life was back!

However, as you know, life is a journey with many twists and turns. You can never be sure what is around the next corner. Marion was about to receive another blow. It is a cold day in February 22, 2015. Our car is packed. We are ready to head down to Florida for a month of warm, spring sunshine.

Suddenly, Marion has a stroke. I recognize the symptoms and rush her to The Ottawa Hospital. She is stabilized. Then they discover cancer in Marion’s leg.Despite all of this, Marion’s will to live pulls her through.

Her doctor calls her “The Miracle Person.” This is where we are first introduced to Bruyère. This is when I begin to meet other “miracle people.” This is where I learn about the depth and breadth of care you receive when you come to Bruyère.

I have to be honest though; at first I didn’t want Marion to go to Bruyère. I believed – incorrectly – that Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital or Saint-Vincent Hospital was a warehouse of sorts. I believed it was a place where they housed people to ride out their last days.

I quickly learned Bruyère is a place that helps people get back home. Marion was admitted to the fourth floor rehabilitation program at Bruyère’s Saint-Vincent Hospital, the day after her birthday. This turned out to be one of the greatest gifts she ever received.

After a while, Marion got settled on the second floor. I was asked about our goals. I said; “My goal is to get Marion, my Honey, home.”

I talked to the doctor about Marion’s cancer and the stroke. At the time they thought Marion would be getting palliative care, like my father.

That didn’t sit well with me. I said to Marion, “I promise you. I will TRY everything to bring you home but I can’t promise it will happen.” It happened! My Honey came home.

During the six months we spent at Bruyère we continued to fall deeper in love with each other. Our love, we learned, is limitless. We also learned there are no limits to what the nurses, volunteers, physicians and staff at Bruyère will do to help their patients. We discovered how they include families as part of the care journey.

I visited Marion every day at Bruyère. We would sit together for hours. We got to know other patients, husbands, wives and children. They all have love stories of their own. It’s been several months now since we left Bruyère, but we continue to go back and visit our friends.

There’s the young man who had a terrible car accident. Although he can’t communicate verbally, he’s in there. He’s sharp as a tack. He uses a communication board and he’s in physio every day, getting stronger, looking forward to the day he can go home too.

You and I know about the great work they do. That is why it is up to us to help when we can, for as much as we can.

Marion and I are fine. We’ve settled into our routine at home. Although I’ll admit it’s not easy. Being a caregiver at my age can be tough, but nothing in comparison to what Marion has gone through.

When I sat down to write this letter to you I wanted to make sure I did not underestimate the value and importance of your support.

If you’re lucky you live long enough to understand how lives can change in an instant. Split seconds are often all it takes to separate us from our loved ones.

So, please take a moment right now. Commit yourself to renewing your support to Bruyère. Although the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funds our health care, the money they provide allows Bruyère to give us the care we need.

The extra money given by you and me gives us the care we deserve. It pays for the extra equipment, training, and research all designed to make our lives better.The money we give helps get us home.

Marion and I were playing backgammon the day we were threatened with our last four hours together. The outcome of that game is determined by strategy, luck and the roll of the dice.

We can’t leave our health and our future to luck. We have to be strategic about where we invest our donation dollars. Investing in the good people at Bruyère is a wonderful place to start.

Sincerely yours,
Ron Whiting

P.S. Love, Laughter, trust and faith help us meet life’s daily challenges. When we support Bruyère we help bring that…and so much more…into the lives of so many. Thank you.