Consulting pediatrician, loving family woman, friend of many. Born on Sept. 26, 1963, in Montreal; died on Sept. 13, 2013, in Halifax, of multiple myeloma and amyloidosis, aged 49.
Stacey was born in Montreal on an autumn day just before the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, a first for all – her parents, her maternal and paternal grandparents, her aunt and uncle.
At 11, she decided she just had to have a puppy from a neighbouring dog’s litter. Because she had had allergic reactions to dogs, her parents kiboshed the idea. But she was besotted with one black-and-white puppy and, abetted by her younger brothers Jeffrey and Daniel, the puppy was smuggled into her room. No allergies ensued, and the family had a beloved pet for more than 14 years.
At dinner one evening, Stacey mentioned she wanted to be a doctor of animals. Her grandfather replied, “Why not a people doctor?” The seed for her career was sown. Upon graduation from Marianopolis CEGEP, she was invited by McGill University to attend its one-year premed program, and then entered McGill Medical School. Med school involved more than studying; she also played hockey on a house team and sang in a school musical.
After graduating in 1987, she headed to Halifax for the Dalhousie University internship program. She was accepted into the pediatrics residency program at Izaak Walton Killam Children’s Hospital. Always adventurous, she spent six months of her residency in Australia, at Adelaide Children’s Hospital and doctoring aboriginal children in Alice Springs.
In 1993, Stacey married journalist and musician Sandy MacDonald, and embraced life with his large Nova Scotian family. Daughter Leah arrived in 1993, and son Jonah in 1997. Stacey and the children travelled the Maritimes extensively, hiking many Cape Breton trails. Summer vacations included trips to the Rockies and to Europe. Many evenings were spent with friends and family, Sandy playing guitar, Stacey singing folk and Maritime songs.
Through her busy pediatric practice and as an emergency-room physician, Stacey helped innumerable patients and their families. In an online condolence book, Melanie and David Weir wrote of her impact on their life: “Our family met Dr. Schwartz about 12 years ago. Our daughter Olivia was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease, six weeks after birth. ... We went through a lot over the next two years and [Stacey] was there each step of the way. Unfortunately, we lost Olivia in 2003. … Each year since, we have had a walk in her memory and to raise money for the Liver Foundation. Stacey has attended many of these walks … Every time, my husband and I think, ‘Wow, after all this time and the countless other patients that have come and gone, she still cares about us and our family.’”
Stacey was also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Dalhousie, and loved teaching. She created a “formative teaching program” in which all medical students are critiqued as they conduct a patient history and physical examination. In 2009, she presented her program at a convention in Spain of the Association for Medical Education in Europe.
Stacey was a devoted, caring wife and mother. An enthusiastic and discriminating reader, she enjoyed book club meetings. She was a keen hiker and cyclist, a singer in her synagogue choir, an innovative cook, photographer and gardener. There wasn’t much our little girl could not do.
On a trip to Israel with her cousin almost two years ago, the first symptoms of her illness appeared. For a year and a half, she bravely bore those symptoms. In mid-September, on the eve of Yom Kippur, as her fellow Jews were preparing to go to synagogue to hear the Kol Nidre prayer, Stacey’s battle ended. More than 500 mourners attended her funeral.
Irwin and Myrna Schwartz are Stacey’s parents.