Nicola St George

When Nicola St George was 41 years old, she found a lump in her breast and called her doctor immediately

“After my initial ultrasound, I was referred to the Complete Breast Care program at Joseph Brant Hospital.  I received a mammogram and ultrasound where I was told that there was something worth investigating,” says Nicola.  “After my tests, I met with Dr. Austin who informed me I had breast cancer.”

“When I first received my diagnosis, I was in shock,” she says. “The thought of losing my hair and my breast hit me really hard.”

After numerous tests, Nicola was scheduled to have a lumpectomy and mastectomy.  After surgery, she underwent chemotherapy for 12 weeks and Herceptin for a year.

Despite the difficult journey ahead, Nicola felt confident in her doctors. “I felt really connected to Dr. Austin and I had a lot of trust in her.  She was so knowledgeable and up to date with her research and always answered all my questions.”

Throughout her treatment Nicola remarks on her care.  “The nurses, technicians, doctors and all the staff involved, I can’t say enough about their care.  Everyone was kind and compassionate.”

Today, Nicola is feeling happy.  “It almost feels like a memory that happened long ago even though it’s recent.  I received unwavering support from family and friends,” says Nicola. “My cancer woke me up and put things in my life into perspective.  I can’t control what’s going to happen, but I can control how I can take care of myself.”

After her treatment, Dr. Austin connected Nicola with Dense Breasts Canada.

“I advocate for women to learn their breast density and getting mammograms early,” says Nicola, “It’s important for women to be provided with the tools and knowledge to make decisions on their breast health.”

Flora Seul-Jacklen

When Flora discovered a lump in her breast in April of 2019, she felt apprehensive of what lay ahead of her.

Her family doctor recommended the Complete Breast Care program at Joseph Brant Hospital, and once Flora arrived at clinic, she was surprised how positive the entire experience was.

“It wasn’t crowded, the appointments were prompt and on time, and the technicians, nurses and doctors were forthcoming and kind,” says Flora.  “The machines were up-to-date, the doctors seemed very knowledgeable, and despite their busy schedule didn’t appear to be rushed.  I felt that it all helped create a positive environment.”

After being called back for a second mammogram and biopsy, it was determined that Flora had stage 2 cancer.  “I anticipated surgery and met with Dr. Bacopulos and Bliss, the patient navigator.  They were both very forward with their information and willing to listen to my questions.”

Flora appreciated the space they gave her by providing additional resources for more information. They also were open to her using supplementary strategies to support her on his journey. All of this helped inform her decision to have a mastectomy.

“They gave me resources, and I appreciated that.  It felt reassuring and I felt that they allowed me to make decisions alongside them and that I would be in good hands not only for the operation but for the journey of healing ahead of me.”

Today, Flora is feeling positive and doing well.

“I don’t think my strength is quite yet where it was before, but I feel positive.  My experience at JBH was so positive because of the care and professional knowledge by all people I encountered, be they receptionist, nurses, porters or doctors. This made me feel seen and cared for, and when you feel that, it’s a good foundation for healing.”

Pamela Jean

When Pamela Jean received a reminder letter that she was due for a mammogram, she had no idea it would be the start of a series of life changing events.

“I remember I had my mammogram, and then received a call that afternoon that additional imaging was needed.  Then I needed a biopsy.  Within five weeks of the mammogram, I underwent the first of three of my surgeries,” says Pamela.

“I honestly remember feeling my initial diagnosis was a mistake.  I thought maybe my doctor received the wrong information,” she says.

Pamela was referred to Joseph Brant Hospital’s Dr. Bacopolus who met with her and her husband to discuss what was happening.  “She put me at ease immediately.  She had worked with her team to discuss options for me,” says Pamela.  “I can’t say enough how incredible and lovely the staff at the hospital were throughout the entire process.”

After undergoing two lumpectomies, the doctors informed her that the margins weren’t great and there would be a new discussion around what Pamela’s next options would be.  “When I received the results of my second lumpectomy, I met with my oncologist.  We decided that for me and my health at the time, it was best to have a mastectomy,” recalls Pamela.

But two weeks before her surgery when Pamela met with her surgeon, her doctor sensed a slight hesitation.

“I was very lucky to have a caring surgeon who picked up on my hesitation even though she only knew me for a few months.  She insisted I meet with Dr. Sun, a plastic surgeon, and go through all my options to make sure I had no regrets.”

After discussing with Dr. Sun, Pamela decided to undergo breast reconstruction using her own tissues.  “I left feeling like I was taken care of and now I was scheduled for a mastectomy and a reconstruction together,” says Pamela.

After surgery, Pamela spent time in the ICU where she was monitored for complications from the tissue reconstruction, before being transferred to an inpatient unit.  “The nurses and doctors were compassionate, kind – I truly can’t say enough about them.  This entire experience was scary, but everyone was so calm and lovely, I never felt like I wasn’t taken care of,” says Pamela. “Dr. Bacopolus and Dr. Sun made a terrible situation into one of optimism.  I am forever grateful.”

After her experience, Pamela wanted to give back to the Hospital for the incredible support she received.  “I wanted to show my appreciation to the hospital.  I became a monthly donor and volunteered at the hospital.  I believe it’s important to support the hospital, and every little bit helps.”

John Dewsnap

John Dewsnap has worked as a Charge Nurse in the Inpatient Mental Health Unit for Joseph Brant Hospital for 20 years.  As the Charge Nurse, John oversees patient flow, supervises nursing staff and monitors the needs of the staff and patients.

John had worked on medical units, long-term care and corrections before coming to Joseph Brant Hospital.

“I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to bring what I’ve learned from the various settings to help me along the way and with my current position,” says John.

Over the years, one of the most memorable moments John remembers was helping a patient who came to their unit after suffering a terrible injury at work.  They were unable to return to their job and suffered many losses because of this.

“I remember sitting with them on several occasions, as they vented and expressed their concerns,” says John.

The team was able to help the patient with medication adjustments and getting connected with support in the community.  “A few years later, they came back to visit us on the unit, to let us know that they were back on their feet and doing well.  They told us that they were very grateful for all the help they got from the staff on the unit, and that they remembered that I let them vent and cry which meant a lot to them,” says John.

Working in the Mental Health & Addictions unit, John has found how incredible the team is.

“The staff are amazing, and we all work together to help people manage their condition.  Whether it be for education surrounding their medications or connecting them with the right resources in the community,” says John.

John notes how the COVID-19 pandemic has made things very difficult for everyone.  Seeing how many people are feeling isolated and lonely, he notes that the Mental Health & Addictions program has grown and been made more accessible for the community.

“Patients that are discharged are able to get follow-up appointments quicker and are better connected to the resources in the community that they need,” says John.  “I would also say thank you to our community and donors because it’s their support and contributions that are helping the hospital continue its mission.”

Abbey

“I don’t feel happy anymore.”

It was last July, after months of suffering in silence that Abbey approached her mom and told her how she was feeling.

“I just felt numb,” she said. “There is really no way to describe the way I was feeling.”

The last 18 months have been so hard on everyone. Nothing has been normal. Nothing has felt right. And nobody has felt this more than kids.

Studies have shown that in the last year, more than 50% of children and adolescents have reported clinically significant depressive symptoms.

But thanks to the generous support of donors like the RBC Foundation, our CAP Clinic has been there to provide youth with the right care at the right time, including Abbey.

The RBC Foundation began supporting the expansion of the CAP Clinic back in 2013, enabling the program to grow from one-day a week to five-days a week, offering the children, youth and families in our community better access to care.

Over the past eight years, the CAP Clinic has seen a 400% increase in referrals, while providing a significant reduction in wait times. Prior to the pandemic, the CAP Clinic achieved zero wait time for appointments with a child and adolescent psychiatrist, nurse and social worker, down from 52 days in 2013.

The impact on children and adolescents has been particularly hard during the pandemic and, as a result, the CAP Clinic referrals have increased exponentially over the past 18 months. Loss of control, feelings of uncertainty, and changes to routine are contributing to symptoms of anxiety, low mood, adjustment disorders, eating disorders, and parent-child relational problems.

It was a feeling of loneliness and isolation that brought Abbey to the CAP Clinic.

“I remember feeling so alone. Both of my parents are essential workers and weren’t home,” she says. “I’m a very social person and I rely on others to make me happy and I was spending a lot of time in my room alone and crying.”

Abbey began with a psychiatrist, but found a connection with Gwen, a social worker in the CAP Clinic. She remembers having an immediate connection with Gwen, who was so welcoming and really made her feel like she had someone she could talk to that understood.

“A lot what helped was her validating the way that I felt,” Abbey says. “It felt so good to know that I wasn’t alone in what I was feeling and I wasn’t going to get in trouble for feeling this way.”

Over the course of her final year of high school, Abbey and Gwen continued to meet regularly, and after graduating in June, Abbey is studying Early Childhood Studies and Early Childhood Education at the University of Guelph-Humber.

For Abbey, the support of donors like the RBC Foundation has helped a great deal and made her more resilient. “All I can say is thank you,” she says. “Without the program, I don’t know where I would be. I’m sure you’re helping a lot of people, not just me.”

Oran Johnson

Burlington has given Oran Johnson so much: a career, friends, amazing neighbours, financial stability and a true source of connection and pride. So for him, volunteering as a way to give something back was a must.

Oran has served as a member of the JBH Foundation board for the past six years, and during that time has provided incredible leadership and expertise. He also leveraged his passion for golf as Co-Chair for the Annual JBH Open at the Burlington Golf and Country Club.

“I cannot be happier that I chose Joseph Brant Hospital and the Foundation Board as my avenue to try to give back and that they allowed me to be a part of it,” he said. “What an incredible community hospital Joseph Brant has become. It is the pride of our community and the envy of others and I will miss being a part of this incredible continuing transformation.”

Oran is also incredibly appreciative of the generous and ongoing support of all the Burlingtonians who have donated their time and money to make Joseph Brant what it is today. And he has a special message for the staff on the frontlines everyday.

“To the doctors and nurses, service staff and volunteers that pour their heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into providing exceptional care before and now during this pandemic at Joseph Brant Hospital, please know we all owe you a debt we may never be able to properly convey or repay.”

Susan Busby

Susan Busby has always had a passion for community, and specifically health and education.

A retired teacher and principal, Susan has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to our community through decades of volunteering her time, talent and treasure. Susan has served multiple terms as a member of both the Joseph Brant Hospital and JBH Foundation’s Board and played a key role in the Redevelopment and Expansion project.

“Participating as a volunteer has strengthened my understanding of what it means to be part of a community, working with so many committed individuals who come together to enrich the quality of healthcare at JBH, striving to make our world a better place,“ said Susan.

As Susan’s term on the JBH Foundation board comes to an end, we recognize her commitment of time, talent and treasure and thank her for her leadership and passion for engaging others to give.

Jamielynne Smith

Jamielynne is a mother of three and a Burlington resident for 30 years.  For over 10 years, Jamielynne has volunteered her time with Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation and has been a part of various event committees for the Foundation.

Jamielynne’s incredible set design skills and ideas have brought a lot of beauty and story to the Foundation’s events, including the Crystal Ball.  For the past 3 years, Jamielynne has created and decorated the themed Holiday Tree, on display in the hospital’s main lobby. Last year’s Holiday tree was dedicated to the frontline heroes of Joseph Brant Hospital.

“I’ve have never volunteered with more passionate, dedicated and fantastic people, who are collectively so dedicated and enthusiastic!” says Jamielynne. “I take a lot of pride in being able to help the Hospital through the Foundation and I hope to continue to volunteer with them for a long time”.

Kimberly Westenberg

The Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation is lucky to have a large group of dedicated volunteers. From Board and committee members to our IMPACT team, their support goes a long way towards achieving our goals.

For Kimberly Westenberg, volunteering with the Foundation goes back a long way.

“JBH is where I was born and I choose to give back by volunteering my time to the Foundation as JBH has been part of my life’s ups and downs,” she says. “I love volunteering my time in support of the events that raise money to help build a better hospital for the community I grew up in.”

It doesn’t hurt that her mom works for the Foundation.

“I would hear her talking about events and I wanted to attend and help out,” says Kimberly.

Over the past five years, Kimberly has volunteered at a number of Foundation events: Bright Lights Hot Nights, Battle of the Brains Trivia Night, Stars Under the Stars Movie Night, the Amazing Bed Race and the High Falutin’ Hoedown.

Volunteering could mean anything including set-up, tear-down, registration, fundraising, activities, and bartending, or as Kimberly puts it “basically anything I am asked to help with.”

In her volunteering with the Foundation, she has learned about the great amount of hard work and planning that goes into raising money to support our community Hospital.

“The amount of planning and passion that goes to plan a great event to allow the supporters of the hospital have a great time is amazing,” she said.

When asked what she likes most about volunteering for the Hospital Foundation, the answer is easy for Kimberly.

“I love that when I am helping out at an event that it’s always organized and you feel like a part of the team! The Foundation makes sure you are confident and happy with your assignment at the event, and it’s great watching the excitement and fun happen right before your eyes!”

According to Kimberly, the Foundation is a great place to volunteer, and get involved in your community.

“You get to be a part of a community that wants to provide better healthcare for the community. And sometimes you get pizza, and who doesn’t love pizza!”

Bob Basadur

As a Burlington resident, Bob had a “strong sense of wanting to get more involved in the Community from a volunteer standpoint” and joined the Joseph Brant Hospital Board of Directors.

Bob feels that the role of the Foundation Board has several facets. “We are representatives of the Hospital in the Burlington Community to help create awareness and build enthusiasm so people are inspired to give whatever they can financially. We are custodians to a great deal of money and owe it to our donors to be transparent with our governance practices and stewardship of these funds. We are a sounding board for new ideas, strategies and tactics that our President can use to make the best decisions.”

Bob believes that the Redevelopment and Expansion of our Hospital will be the ‘icing on the cake’ and help make Burlington one of the best communities for quality of life in Canada. “It is already a special place and the new Hospital will not only create new jobs and attract some of the best physicians, but it will also be a place Burlington residents will be proud to call their own.”

When asked what part of the Redevelopment and Expansion Project Bob is most excited for he mentions the new emergency facilities. “Our new state-of-the-art Emergency Department, the first point of contact with the Hospital, will go a long way towards changing the public’s perception of the Hospital.”

Bob is a passionate advocate of Joseph Brant Hospital and excited about what is in store for the future of health care for Burlington. “We really need a new Hospital, so let’s work together to make it happen,” said Mr. Basadur.