Honouring my sister

 Written by Debbie Hunt, sister of Dawna Hunt

Dawna0.jpgLung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women. And with that, just over two years ago, my sister Dawna was diagnosed with stage IV adenocarcinoma of the lung. Because it was stage IV, it had already spread to her bones, liver and lymph system. What started out as fatigue and an irritating occasional cough quickly struck down (within six months) an otherwise healthy 40-year-old woman who had never smoked. 

Dawna was the youngest of four children and a very hard worker who managed two jobs. Always eating healthy, physically active, working and never smoking—that’s why we always asked why?

She declined quickly and had to endure considerable pain and discomfort. While she never gave up, she had the presence of mind to be realistic and think about the future. As sick as she was, she still wanted to give, as she always did. A long-time and regular blood donor, Dawna decided she wanted to be an organ donor and made sure to communicate her wishes to her family.

After six weeks in hospital, we managed to get her home to Mom and Dad's, and there she stayed for her last five months. She remained as independent as possible until she suffered a stroke. Six days later she passed peacefully with all her family at her bedside. Dawna lost her battle with lung cancer, and we all lost Dawna. 

Dawna was always helping other people, and her generosity has encouraged the rest of us to make her name proud. In 2015, Dawna was acknowledged by Canadian Blood Services for donating 100 units of blood, and she was the face of the Daffodil Campaign for the Canadian Cancer Society.  

Dawna also loved playing baseball.  Almost every year, she attended the Dunmore tournament in Toronto.  She and her boyfriend would also travel to West Point, New York City and many other places to attend tournaments.  She had several NYPD friends, and she encouraged one, Jimmy, to start his own tournament.  In January 2014, just after Dawna was diagnosed, the ‘Guns and Hoses’ group got together to discuss who the beneficiary of that year’s tournament would be.  Unanimously, they chose Dawna.  Unfortunately, it was Dawna’s name that was honoured in New York City that summer, one month after she passed.


Back in Toronto, Dawna’s friends and I planned a golf tournament as a fundraiser for her, but it also became a memorial tournament. In two years, the golf tournament held in her honour has raised over $25,000, which has been donated to lung cancer research.  In 2015, we donated $6000 to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.  We are looking forward to the 3rd annual Dawna Hunt Memorial Tournament on July 9, 2016 at the Glen Eagle Golf Club in Bolton, when we will get together again to remember Dawna and raise money in her name for lung cancer research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.