Donors Charlie and Iris Chan will ensure equitable care in the future by leaving a gift in their Will

In the fall of 2018, long-time Scarborough residents Charlie and Iris Chan were supposed to go on an amazing trip overseas. Instead, they found themselves on a different kind of journey – one that would see them fighting for Charlie’s life.

Charlie, now 74, worked as a TTC driver for 33 years. His wife Iris was a receptionist in a family doctor’s office before she retired. They met at a Chinese community centre several years ago, and have been devoted to each other ever since.

A few weeks before their trip, Charlie went to see his family doctor. Charlie is diabetic, so he has to get his blood checked every three months. Since it was almost time for Charlie’s next blood test, his doctor wanted to ensure everything was OK with Charlie before he left. They’d soon learn it wasn’t.

Charlie’s hemoglobin count was very low – about half the normal range, and they were worried. In October of 2018 – just one month before their trip – he went to the emergency department at Scarborough Health Network’s Birchmount hospital. There, a new blood test revealed his hemoglobin count had dropped even more. Charlie needed a blood transfusion right away to stabilize him. His condition was so serious that he had to be hospitalized for a week.

Charlie was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – a deadly type of blood cancer that Iris, who had worked in a cancer research centre when she was younger, knew was serious. Without hesitation, she was ready to be at his side through it all. And so were we at SHN.

While there’s no cure for the kind of cancer Charlie has, bone marrow transplants could prolong his life and give him more time with his children, grandchildren, friends, and his beloved Iris.

To prepare his body for the transplants (which had to be done at another hospital), Charlie needed weekly chemotherapy for six months. Charlie received chemo at SHN, which is close to where they live and meant less time spent travelling back and forth for Charlie’s treatments, and less stress too.

In May 2019, Charlie had his first bone marrow transplant. Two months later, a second transplant was done. Both procedures went well, and Charlie returned to SHN for ongoing follow ups with our oncology team.

Supporting their local hospital, setting a good example for their children and future generations, and giving back to the community have always been important to Charlie and Iris. They were SHN donors already; however, now they wanted to do something more to express their gratitude for the excellent health care Charlie has received here. As Iris says, “This hospital really saved my husband’s life!”

The Chans are loyal donors to SHN Foundation, including supporting the annual Chinese Radiothon and annual donations. And, after Charlie’s exceptional care to treat his cancer, they decided to include SHN in their Will.

“Our giving is another way we can say ‘thank you’ and show our appreciation to Charlie’s healthcare team at SHN,” says Iris. By including SHN in their legacy giving plans, they are ensuring future generations will benefit from the same great care.

The Chans hope that by continuing to share their SHN story, others will be moved to support our hospital too – for everyone who calls our community home.

Did you know you can make your will online for free? Visit to get started, and choose SHN Foundation as your charity of choice. Contact Verna Chen at to learn more.