Family man, physician, athlete, nature enthusiast. Born on April 16, 1957, in Winnipeg; died on March 7, 2014, in St. Catharines, Ont., of brain cancer, aged 56.
From a young age, Marty knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. When he was only 7, he happened to peer out the bedroom window of his Winnipeg home and see a paramedic caring for a patient on a stretcher. Fascinated and moved by what he saw, he decided at that moment to become a doctor and spend his life helping others.
After his family moved to Toronto, where he attended high school, Marty travelled to Israel to study at a yeshiva, following which he completed his undergraduate degree at Yeshiva University in New York City. He returned to Canada for medical school at the University of Toronto and further specialization at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
He then built a career as a hematologist and oncologist in the Niagara region, where he and his wife, Rosalie, raised their three sons, Adam, Jonathan and Daniel.
When he was 42, Marty was diagnosed with blood cancer. After treatment from his colleagues, he returned to work with them – now armed with the unique perspective of having had a close call with the disease himself. Having experienced both sides of the bed, he could relate to his patients on a first-hand, personal basis.
He was dedicated to his work, but took time to pursue many athletic endeavours as well. He ran a marathon and cycled in 100- and 160-kilometre charity events, raising money for cancer treatment and research. As both a cancer doctor and survivor, Marty was committed to such activities, so much so that even after a serious cycling accident left him with multiple fractures, he went right back to his intensive training well before Rosalie thought it advisable. Not surprisingly, she affectionately referred to him as “the machine.”
Marty also loved to relax in the outdoors. Some of his happiest moments were spent tending to his ornate landscaping, walking his dogs, and canoeing various Ontario waterways. His compassion extended beyond his patients to all living things: He once found and helped rehabilitate an injured hawk, releasing it back into the wild himself a few weeks later. And when dozens of baby turtles hatched in the backyard, he raced to usher them away from the hazardous road and down to the pond.
Marty also knew that Canada was filled with natural beauty and thought it important to explore its many wonders with his family, including memorable road trips through the Maritimes.
Fourteen years after his first diagnosis, Marty unexpectedly fell ill with another aggressive form of cancer. Less than a month later, he passed away in St. Catharines General Hospital – the very place he had spent so much of his life caring for others. Students at McMaster University’s medical school awarded him a teaching honour for his mentorship work, and a team from the local cancer centre will ride in a cycling fundraiser with “Inspired by Marty” logos on their shirts. He would be truly humbled that so many people remember him with such tributes.
Marty taught by example the importance of being a productive, compassionate human being. From the little boy with big dreams in Winnipeg, to the true gentleman he exemplified in St. Catharines, he tried to live life to the fullest, bring comfort to others, and make the world a better place. And he did.
Jonathan Samosh is Marty’s son.