Seen & heard:
A lifetime of compassion

A lifetime of compassion


Fifty-four years ago, Betty Stevens took her three-month-old son Geoff to the pediatrician for a routine check-up. Geoff was fussy that hot morning—and during the examination, Betty couldn’t help but notice that the doctor kept going back to his heart.

“Eventually, he told me that something wasn’t right with it,” Betty remembered. “I was in shock.”

Geoff had a hole in the upper right chamber of his heart. As a serious procedure in the ’60s, he received surgery at the age of four. After the surgery, the family moved across Canada to Vancouver. Years of concern over Geoff’s growth rate eventually secured an introduction from their pediatrician to Dr. Tse, an endocrinologist at BC Children’s, who oversaw Geoff’s progress into his teen years.

Betty Stevens with her husband, George

Betty Stevens with her husband, George

Her three children now grown up, Betty wanted to volunteer, and as a cancer survivor herself, found the perfect opportunity: the hospital’s oncology unit. During her eight years here, Betty was struck by how mature the kids were: “Six going on 60,” she recalled. “Kids would undergo a procedure, then be back playing soon after.”

A mother of a teenage girl, for whom Betty had brought a pair of earrings, wrote a note of thanks of how thrilled her daughter had been—the earrings made her feel like a real person, instead of a patient.

Memories like those—as well as her son’s own health journey—inspired Betty, a member of the Foundation’s Legacy Circle, to make an extraordinary contribution. “I thought to myself, ‘Why wait?’ I want to do something worthwhile now,” Betty shared.

Betty’s recent gift is supporting a life-saving bronchoscope for the hospital’s cardiology unit, as well as a nation-wide pediatric oncology research initiative that sequences genomes to help find targeted therapies for kids whose tumours don’t respond to standard treatments.

Reflecting back on how the major surgery needed for her son is now performed as a minimally invasive procedure, Betty is gratified to know her gifts are taking leading-edge care to even greater heights, today and for the future.

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