RETURN TO CELEBRATIONS

My father Dr. Terry Porter died of cancer on Friday, September 15th, 2006, leaving behind an unbelievable partnership with his wife, Andrea, which produced four sons - Steve, Dave, Rob and Mike. As you read this, some will have heard of him, some will have not. It is safe to say that if you knew him, he made an impression on you. Terry "Doc" Porter was an orthopedic surgeon in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, for over 30 years. During that time he consulted, counseled and treated hundreds of thousands of people. He even planned, and then implemented the disaster protocol for Barrie's Royal Victoria Hospital, which passed the acid test with flying colours following the tornado that roared through Barrie in May 1985.

Even though he spent his life "stamping out disease, relieving suffering" as he would often say, he could not escape being a victim of cancer.

 

From the time of his first diagnosis to the time of his passing was a scant 11 months. The fact that this insidious killer was even found was a complete fluke. In October 2006, the Royal Victoria Hospital had just received a new CAT scan machine and the radiologists wanted to calibrate it with someone who had titanium stents. Terry was asked to take a voluntary scan since he had previously survived two heart attacks. He was completely symptom free at this point, being active playing tennis and golf regularly with his BOBBA (Barrie Old Boys Boating Association) & Florida friends. The radiologist noticed a gray shadow on one of Terry's lungs and that started a never-ending stream of tests, surgeries and eventual treatments that in the end all proved to be ineffective.

 

My father never did anything 'just for the sake of doing it'. He often told us to 'do it right, the first time'. He taught each of us how to be a tremendous husband, a great father, a caring member of a community and a terrific person. In the end, he even taught them how to die with dignity. He never once complained about getting sick, choosing instead to focus on what was happening right in front of him and how to deal with it. Even to this day there has not been a definitive diagnosis of which cancer got the better of him. The most popular diagnosis was a Clear Cell Myofibril Melanoma but after experts in Barrie, Toronto, Boston and Houston could not agree, he was left to face an unknown assailant.

 

Terry Porter was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, and spent his childhood years in Springhill and Amherst. His father was a member of the Navy and was often absent leaving Terry to be 'the man of the house'. After moving to Toronto as a teen he met Andrea Keachie where they both attended East York Collegiate. Until the time of his passing he was by her side for over 50 years. Terry was a gifted athlete who starred on many varsity teams; Andrea was the head cheerleader. Following East York CI, Terry gained entrance to Queen's University where he enrolled in Queen's Medical School and starred for the Queen's Golden Gaels Football Team. Queen’s University gave him the honour of inducting him into the Queen's Football Hall of Fame in 1982. Following his graduation from Queen's Medical School, Terry finally decided to settle in the then small city of Barrie. A testament to the kind of person he was, Terry's funeral was attended by hundreds of high school friends, university colleagues, teammates, and friends who traveled great distances to pay their respects.

 

My father enjoyed tremendous success in athletics being noticed by professional leagues in hockey, baseball and football. Turning all of that aside, he knew that he wanted to be a doctor more than anything else. Using many of the skills learned in team sports, he poured himself into becoming the best possible doctor. Throughout his professional career he was recognized as an outstanding yet empathetic surgeon. Manufacturers asked him to field test new prosthetics and offer his opinion on new surgical techniques. At the end of his practice he was commissioned by the College of Surgeons to do peer assessments. All of this could make a person proud of his accomplishments but Terry's single biggest thrill was seeing a severely injured patient resume a regular life as a result of his expertise. He often told his sons how it was the surgery that was the true thrill and he was REALLY GOOD AT IT! Complete strangers would often stop members of Terry's family to talk about what a difference he had made in their lives.

 

My father left behind a devoted wife, four 'chips off the old block' and their partners, seven cherished grandchildren and a plethora of appreciative friends. His influence on me will last a lifetime – even now I ask myself if he would be proud of the decisions I make. I think his entire life can be summed up in by his lifelong friend Ken Hills.... "Terry Porter was a great guy and I'm proud to have called him a friend!"

 

RETURN TO CELEBRATIONS

 

 

 

 


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