Knights of Columbus logo

Terry McLauchlan’s Battle with Cancer

Terry McLauchlanTerry’s battle with cancer started in 1995 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This was a major shock to a woman who had had no major medical problems all her life. Suddenly she was thrust into a world of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, into a world of new terminologies, equipment, procedures and that fear of that horrible disease you only hear about but never believe it will attack you. She like others who have cancer or will contract this disease asked the question “Why Me?” and “What will it do to my family?’ and “How do I cope with this horrible disease?” At the outset of this battle we did not know that Terry’s questions would be answered because she was chosen to use this disease as a tool to help others fight and beat cancer.

The major part of Terry’s medical treatment has been at the Credit Valley Hospital oncology clinic which in 1995 consisted of a few doctors, nurses, clerks and volunteers cramped into a very small area. Although everyone was focusing on Terry’s needs, she took in all that was going on around her and saw, from a patient’s point of view, what had to be done to ensure that the hospital team could provide the world class care that was needed and that they were dedicated to provide.

Her first observation was that there were not enough “fanny packs” (the pouches one wears at their waists to carry personal effects) available so that chemotherapy patients could leave the hospital during the treatment and not have to endure long sessions sitting in the cramped oncology department. The problem was that the fanny packs were not returning to the hospital so Terry suggested to her husband that perhaps the Knights of Columbus council to which he belongs might want to donate some fanny packs and so her first act of inspiration was accomplished. A thousand fanny packs, printed with the Hospital and Knights of Columbus logos, were donated and the pack retention rate is fantastic.

In May 2004, Terry’s cancer had grown to a point that a tumor on her spine had to be removed or else she had a very high probability of becoming a paraplegic. As she was being prepared for her surgery, her medical exam showed that the cancer had now invaded her lungs but that did not slow Terry down

Next Terry recognized that help was needed to raise funds for what is now The Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre and so she again made a plea to Sts. Peter & Paul Council #11337 in Mississauga for them to consider donating to the capital fund raising. By this time she had developed bone cancer and her fighting by way of radiation and more chemotherapy while maintaining her work ethic, family commitments and becoming an advocate for other cancer patients was the fuel that inspired the council to start raising money by holding annual Chicken Bar B Q’s in support of the chemo therapy department. In the first few years she cooked and served along with the other members and their wives and the funds began to accumulate. This event, now know as the Sir Knight William Riosa Memorial Chicken Bar B Q for Cancer Care in memory of the first member of the council to die of cancer, has been the flag ship of the fund raising efforts of this council and made it possible for the council to donate $50,000 to the chemo therapy department in October 2004. This donation was made possible because of the stories Terry would tell about how patients were so well treated despite the crowded conditions and the lack of equipment. These stories were inspired by her desire to help the doctors, nurses and staffs provide the needed care to her and her fellow cancer patients. She would always say “What could they do if they had enough equipment? This donation was used to purchase 9 infusion pumps for the centre.

At the recognition event for the members and family of Sts. Peter & Paul Council # 11337 of the Knights of Columbus held in close proximity to the new chemotherapy clinic, those who attended saw what their work had accomplished and they also saw how much more has to be done. It was that night that Terry’s inspiration shone out like a guiding light as she was greeted by the many of the nurses and staff of the oncology department with which she has developed a very deep and emotional relationship. The council members attending that event saw this “Terry Force” was still working as an advocate for others. It was there that it was decided to approach the general membership of the council to get their approval to start work on a second $50,000 donation. The approval was unanimous and when it was discovered that the hospital needed a cancer orientation website, the council said there would be no better tribute to Terry then by recognizing her inspiration with the council’s sponsorship of this site.

Sadly, on October 28, 2006 Terry lost her battle with cancer surrounded by her loving family and friends. Until the end, she continued to reach out to others and give them hope that cancer can be beaten. To those who knew her, lived with her, talked with her, cried with her, laughed with her, fought cancer with her, she was a beacon of positive thinking and spiritual comfort.  

The generous donation of Sts. Peter & Paul Council # 11337 will ensure that Terry’s name and inspiration will continue not only in Peel, Halton, Dufferin, Simcoe, Wellington and the GTA West, but to anyone in the world who will use this website.

Thank you Terry McLauchlan for your work as a cancer advocate, positive influence on others, wife, mother, and grandmother but mostly for being a tower of energy and hope to everyone you touched. You will always be world class, right here in our hearts.



Back to top