In the summer of 2017 Bruce thought the pain in his shoulder was from too much golfing. But the pain only got worse and he eventually lost all function in his left arm. From January to June 2018, he went from an emerge doctor to a massage therapist to a chiropractor, to a family doctor who sent him to a neurologist. It was the chest xray that showed a massive pancoast cancerous tumour. On June 20th, the surgeon told him, “I am so sorry this tumor is inoperable, treatments of radiation and chemotherapy will only give you more time now.”
When faced with a terminal disease, the real battle is in how we choose to live. Bruce's battle to live was fought valiantly and bravely and he was Victorious! He began his biggest lifetime adventure with wife Carolyn by his side. They spent time with their children Geoff, Stephanie, Craig, Isabelle, Amanda, Matt , Ryan, Sarah and Brett and grandchildren Riley, Austin, Gracie, Sadie and Emily. They attended concerts, family & friend gatherings as much as they could. They talked and laughed on their road trips, and enjoyed the little things like coffee on the deck or going out for ice cream! Bruce wasn't going to let a little thing like "no insurance" be an issue with the travelling he still wanted to do. They ventured to Germany to visit Charlotte and her family spending time in their cabin in the mountains of Austria, they finished that holiday in Zurich, Switzerland in a quaint little neighbourhood. Then with friends, they found rest and relaxation in the sunny Dominican Republic, They watched the sunrise together on the beach. Then the bucket list trip: "Alaska or bust".. that is what Bruce kept saying! They spent 5 days exploring the wilderness of Alaska with a bus group of wonderful, caring people. They were surrounded in the vastness of mountains, forests and little towns. Then they did a 7 day cruise where they dined in style, witnessed the wildlife and breathtaking landscapes as they sipped coffee on their port side balcony and got so close to the Hubbard glacier they could hear the thundering cracks. It truly was a breathtaking adventure.
In August 2019, Bruce Withers entered into the Stratford Perth Rotary Hospice to spend his final days. They were welcomed with the most caring and dedicated staff and volunteers. When it was evident his time was coming to an end, the SPRH gave everyone dignity and respect in the decisions that were made. Carolyn was given the grace to be his wife again and no longer needed to worry about being his caretaker. His children and grandchildren were given beautiful memories of the last days as they supported him to celebrate his 60th birthday in very special ways: having a princess tea party with his granddaughters with the surprise visit of Disney Frozen characters Anna and Elsa. Also a potluck western themed gathering of his family and close friends. The SPRH gave him the opportunity to live in beautiful moments until the end of his life.
The hospice continues to support the family with bereavement group meetings. Openly talking about grief is not comfortable in our society and it should be, it is part of our life. The support group gives all a voice and is heard without judgement.
The intention of 'The Rooster Classic' is to be an annual event that will raise awareness and funds for the Stratford Perth Rotary Hospice. Bruce was given dignity in death and his family is forever grateful. Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support.