A Mother's Love Forever Cherished

Healing Garden

Joyce StevensonThe Max Tanenbaum Healing Garden is a beautiful courtyard found on the 14th floor of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The abundant, colourful glass flowers can be seen from patients’ rooms and the Cancer Center hallway, and each one of these flowers has a story. The flowers are a symbol of generous donations to The Princess Margaret in honour or in memory of loved ones. This May, eight of the flowers in the Healing Garden will be dedicated to an incredible mother, grandmother, nurse, and friend, Joyce Stevenson, and this is her story.

Joyce was a fun, outgoing girl when she met Clayton in high school back in the early 1960s in Sudbury, Ontario. He was quiet, and didn’t like being the centre of attention, so he was caught off guard when she asked him to the Sadie Hawkins Dance in the ninth grade. Flustered and shy, he simply replied, “No thank you,” but, unbeknownst to them at the time, this was the beginning of the story of their lives together. Throughout the years in high school, Joyce and Clayton had gotten to know each other better, started dating, and were married six years later.

Joyce StevensonJoyce had gone on to pursue a career in nursing. She was passionate about helping others and was known throughout the Sudbury General Hospital and the Sudbury Memorial Hospital for her incredible bedside manner and kindness, but in 1981 she ran into her own health problems. 

Joyce was 34 years old with three young children when she was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. At this point in time, the chances of survival were not good. Joyce came to Toronto and received a combination of radiation and chemotherapy treatments at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Stevenson FamilyJoyce was at The Princess Margaret for almost seven weeks receiving treatment. Clayton was constantly by her side, helping her and making sure she was comfortable. Once she was able to return home, she had lost a lot of weight, and was experiencing many side effects. 

“I initially didn’t feel Joyce was going to make it, and I really and truly don’t believe that she thought she would make it,” says Clayton. “She didn’t even think she would see her kids graduate from elementary school.”

It truly turned out to be a blessing both to Joyce and her entire family when she not only was able to see all of her children graduate, but in fact lived another 33 years.

In this time, she was able to see her daughters grow up, get married, and experience the joy of having three beautiful grandchildren in her life.

Joyce Stevenson's grandchildren
Joyce’s first two grandchildren were both boys, Noah and Jabril. Joyce, coming from a family of all girls, was ecstatic and loved having them around.

Her third grandchild was a girl, Jameelah, and happened to be born on her 66th birthday. 

“If there was ever a moment in her life where she was through the roof, that was it,” says Clayton.  

The next year, in 2014, the family celebrated Jameelah’s first birthday and Joyce’s last.

Joyce is remembered by her family as someone who made them smile.

She was inspirational, supportive, brave, and a blessing to have had in their lives.

Joyce was a mother who loved with all her heart, and her story will remain engrained in the eight glass flowers honouring her memory in the Max Tanenbaum Healing Garden