John’s Story: Inspired by exceptional care on Vancouver Island

“Medicine skipped a generation in my family. My father was a well-known general surgeon right here in Victoria, Dr. Jack Stenstrom. Today, one of my sons is an internal medicine physician in Oregon—my wife Bonnie and are very proud of him, as we are of his brothers.

I wasn’t drawn to medicine like they were, but let me tell you that I’ve sure benefitted from the care of those who were. Many times.

Bonnie and I raised our family abroad before Victoria called us back home. We spent 25 years in Northern California and Washington as I worked and Bonnie raised our four sons. I was gone a lot for business—Australia, New Zealand, South America. I saw a lot of the world.

I wouldn’t have thought it then, but those experiences would show me just how great we have it right here. Like it is for a lot of people, there was something that drew me back home to where I grew up. For more reasons than one, I’m grateful for that today.

Not long after I returned to Canada, the prostate cancer that I had years earlier in California returned. I had seen some of the best physicians in the US at Stanford University Medical Center. They were ahead of their time. When I called down there to ask if I should return for treatment they surprised me by saying ‘No, stay home. You’re in one of the best places on the West Coast for treatment, right there at Royal Jubilee Hospital.’

Years passed and Bonnie and I enjoyed sailing and spending a few months each year on the road in our RV travelling to see the grandkids. There are 10 of them now.

Last October, after a terrible, restless night’s sleep I awoke with great swelling in my leg. Bonnie knew we needed to go for help right away. She gave me five minutes and we were off to Saanich Peninsula Hospital. A short while later I was transferred by ambulance to Royal Jubilee where I would undergo an angioplasty to relieve the swelling.

I’ll admit, I’m not the most conscientious person when it comes to detail. But one of the things I really remember was Dr. Peter Sherk talking to me before I went to the High Acuity Unit for recovery. My son David, the physician, called my phone while we were speaking. He and Dr. Sherk ended up having a good conversation about my condition, one internist to another. I know it set my mind at ease and I’m sure it did for my son and for my wife, too.

I spent several days in the new High Acuity Unit and I credit the care that I had at Royal Jubilee for a full and complete recovery. All of the doctors, all of the nurses, and all of the support staff were just exceptionally good. Bonnie and I recently made a donation to help fund the permanent High Acuity Unit as our way of saying thank-you.

Coming back to Canada after retirement, healthcare was a big part of our decision. From my perspective the care we have in British Columbia is top-notch. When you need it, it’s there and it’s very good. I am very grateful for the resources and the medical care that we have here at home.”

—John, Grateful Patient, James Bay

“I knew right away when John called and told me he ‘was in an ambulance and there were four machines whirring,’ that it was really serious. Our son David confirmed my suspicions.

For me, I wasn’t the patient, but the patient is very important to me. I felt really good knowing that he was in the hands of this constellation of physicians in the High Acuity Unit—that they had various specialties but they were all going to come together on this situation. I had this sense that every aspect of John was going to be taken care of because that’s what those people were there for.

We both have a lot of confidence in our healthcare. I wasn’t worried. You have to put your trust somewhere, and I trust this system here. It works.”

—Bonnie, John’s wife