Margaret Rodgers (right) at her birthday celebration with friend Sherrin Wasson.

Margaret Rodgers (right) at her birthday celebration with friend Sherrin Wasson.

SIDEBAR: A chance to give back

Peace Arch Hospital patient Margaret Rodgers decided she didn't want gifts for her 75th birthday – just donations to the facility.

In the realm of donors to Peace Arch Hospital, Margaret Rodgers must surely be in a special category.

Diagnosed with bone cancer while studying for a degree at McGill , the English-born woman was – in her own words – “sent home to die before I was 20.”

Almost six decades later, she’s still around, although currently an extended-care patient at Peace Arch.

In spite of bouts with cancer in her ribs and hip and multiple chemotherapy treatments – and eventual loss of use of one hand – she has lived a full and rewarding life in Canada which has included careers at IBM and as a travel tour creator, and marriage (her husband passed away at Peace Arch in 2002).

“I’ve had a fuller life than most people who have nothing wrong with them,” said the down-to-earth, pragmatic Rodgers, whose soft voice still bears the tones of her hometown of Leeds, Yorkshire.

On Oct. 24, Rodgers held a 75th birthday party for herself and, instead of gifts, the 65 guests were asked to make a donation, raising more than $4,000 for the hospital.

It was a replay of a successful 60th birthday party in England, she said.

“At that time, thinking that I’d survived 40 years longer than expected, I decided that I didn’t want any gifts, just a donation to my mum’s favourite hospital.”

Recurrence of the cancer that has shadowed her throughout her life forced her to abandon a plan to return to England for her 75th, and instead hold the party at Victory Memorial Park.

Inevitably, given her health history, her thoughts turn to leaving an example of giving as a legacy to the community

“I didn’t want (the party) to be just a fundraiser,” she said. “I want to make the community aware of what a wonderful hospital we have here.

“What is surprising and impressed me so much from my recent experience is the professionalism of the nurses and doctors – they are so kind and patient. They must be harassed, but it never shows.”

 

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