Sharon participated in her first 60 km, two-day walk to honour her best friend’s mom in 2008, on a team now called ‘Shake the Disease.’ The energy of the community kindled a lasting commitment, and for the following decade, Sharon continued to participate in The Weekend to Conquer Cancer, while raising funds for critically needed cancer research.
In the fall of 2017, Sharon’s mother, Parbattee, experienced a shortness of breath along with a cough that just wouldn’t quit. Her family doctor discovered fluid around her lungs and upon the preliminary diagnosis, at the family’s request, immediately referred her to the lung clinic at The Princess Margaret where Sharon’s family received a diagnosis that was very hard to digest. Parbattee had stage four metastatic lung cancer.
Parbattee started treatment immediately and was grateful for the open and honest approach of the lung clinic. She was always able to get answers.
“Dr. Shepard was my utopian pick and beyond the outstanding resume; she was the right mix of personality and presence for my mom, for our family.”
Before diagnosis, Sharon was in the process of getting a new puppy but was now feeling uneasy. “We were still waiting for the treatment plan to come in from the lung clinic, so I was hesitant to bring him home.” But she pushed the uncertainty aside, followed through, and brought her new furry friend, Cooper, home to meet Parbattee. “Mom froze, I couldn’t tell what she was feeling but she held both arms out, put him in her lap and that was that, the two were inseparable.”
In 2018, the cancer metastasized and moved from the lungs to the brain. Parbattee accessed many specialties within The Princess Margaret, including neurology, radiation and eventually, palliative care. “Chemotherapy kept her stable for about a year, but once it moved to her brain things went very quickly,” Sharon said.
Making Cooper a part of the family was the best decision Sharon ever made; he was “the happy” their family needed throughout treatment. And he always seemed to know just when Parbattee needed a good snuggle. “I would often hear my mom talking to Cooper; the things she might not say to us, she was saying to him.”
In March of 2019, after a year and a half long battle with cancer, Parbattee passed away peacefully in her sleep.
Sharon says that the sincerity from the entire Princess Margaret team helped her and her family make some very tough calls along the way. And for that she is forever grateful. “They always looked past the illness and into the person,” Sharon said.
“When you really see it in action, the personalized treatments, the level of care, it really validates the effort you put in to fundraising.”
Sharon and her father Anthony have both left legacy gifts to The Princess Margaret in their wills through the JCB Grant Society. “It’s is one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world, we know it will continue to make an impact on a global level.”