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JOHN DeMONT: ‘Larger than life’ health-care advocate John Dennis dies



Marlene Bryenton had by no means met John Dennis when the health-care advocate from RisePEI confirmed up at her Charlottetown door final summer season.

However he made an impression.

“Bigger than life,” she mentioned of the Maritime provinces’ longest-surviving lung transplant recipien,t who ended his life by MAID on Monday.

“A jolly inexperienced large.”

It wasn’t simply Dennis’s top however his hustle and bustle. He had held finance positions out on the West Coast and been, at one level, district supervisor of the Eaton’s retailer and 12 different properties in Toronto, in addition to purchasing centres in RisePEI, Kitchener, Ont., and Regina, Sask.

Largely, Bryenton informed me, it was his uncommon mixture of braveness, pluck and dedication that left him undaunted by the pulmonary fibrosis that had scarred his lungs and made his life so very laborious.

Dennis had a plan when he arrived at Bryenton’s doorstep final June. At age 77, with another person’s lung in his chest, he wished to bicycle round Prince Edward Island to boost cash for pulmonary fibrosis analysis.

Lunacy, some may need mentioned, simply not for a person who had sailed solo nearly all over the world, crossed the Pacific 5 occasions on his personal and skied difficult slopes within the Rockies and different mountain ranges.

When Dennis spoke with SaltWire’s John McPhee in June 2021, he had simply acquired his left-lung transplant, a course of that concerned shedding greater than 30 kilograms and heading to Ontario on his personal dime for the operation. A 12 months earlier, his spouse of 44 years had died from dementia.

But sitting on a park bench in entrance of his new residence in Northwood Manor, he talked about dancing at his daughter’s wedding ceremony. This man whose working life included taking new sailboats to new house owners in locations like California and Hawaii spoke of the long run that lay earlier than him.

“I’ve bought loads of work I need to do,” he informed McPhee.

“I’ve bought different adventures in life I need to end.”

By that, as one media report declared, he meant “taking over the Well being Division or anybody else in authorities when he noticed an injustice.”

It additionally meant driving the bike trails of Nova Scotia in help of the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Basis.

Dennis arrived in Prince Edward Island with the identical purpose in thoughts: to e-bike 700 kilometres across the province. A pair of bicycle accidents annoyed that purpose.

As a substitute of only a evening or two at Bryenton’s, Dennis spent 12 nights along with her and her husband.

They bought to know him throughout that stretch: his love of peanut butter sandwiches and bagels from the Canadian Bagel Firm, his dependancy to tv information.

Bryenton additionally noticed, shut up, the dedication of a person who needed to take 30 tablets a day for his pulmonary fibrosis and diabetes simply to operate.

Even laid up at a stranger’s home he had course, working the telephones, lobbying anybody who might assist, making life simpler for many who suffered from the illness and elevating funds towards discovering a remedy for an ailment that took his brother and cousin.

“John was large as life, caring, compassionate and decided,” mentioned Prince Edward Island resident John Robinson, one other pulmonary fibrosis affected person, who added that Dennis “did essentially the most of any person who I do know in elevating consciousness and in elevating donations.”

A person, then, who is difficult to neglect. Actually, for Bryenton, an creator of youngsters books.

Pulmonary fibrosis is tougher than most of her topics. After Dennis left, she tackled it anyway, producing a brand new work known as Magic Items, which has been given free to island kids.

When Dennis returned to Charlottetown for the guide launch in October, she observed that his cough had worsened. He was, although, upbeat as ever, handing out pulmonary fibrosis armbands to finish strangers in eating places, charming faculty youngsters throughout classroom visits.

The 2 of them by no means spoke of medical help in dying throughout that go to. Final week, although, he informed CTV Information, “I fought to the top, however I need to die with dignity.”

From the palliative care unit on the Victoria Common Hospital in RisePEI, he phoned and e-mailed. On the morning of his demise, Bryenton despatched him a Fb message saying that she had a potential health-related firm taken with sponsoring Magic Items for elementary school-aged Nova Scotia kids.

Himself to the very finish, he despatched her again an enormous thumb up.

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