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Traditional Montserrat dancers perform at a CANO benefit gala. (Not to be printed, transmitted or broadcast without the permission of Media Source.)
Traditional Montserrat dancers perform at a CANO benefit gala. (Not to be printed, transmitted or broadcast without the permission of Media Source.)

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THE VOLUNTEER

WITH LOVE FROM MONSERATT



MARY GLAVASSEVICH learned an important lesson early in her life, as a child on the island of Montserrat. Her mother would cook a meal and before sitting down to eat would ask Mary to see who in the neighbourhood would like to share their food. “Life is not all about just you," Mary recalls today.

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That simple but powerful belief has shaped her life and work. As the Patient Care Manager for Surgical Oncology and Hearing Services, Mary not only gives her time and energy to her Sunnybrook family, but also to raising money for and promoting awareness of health issues among the residents of Montserrat. For a developing country devastated by Hurricane Hugo and an active volcano, that assistance is especially precious.

In 2011, with support from Sunnybrook’s Information Services, Mary travelled to Montserrat to provide the island’s only hospital with its first computer. “I felt it was important for nurses and other health-care staff to keep in touch with what’s changing in health care and also to understand the standards of care,” says Mary, who used her own money to cover her travel and expenses.

Mary has also provided books on breast and other types of cancer, thermometers, eye examination equipment and educational material related to diabetes. During her last visit, she spent two weeks educating locals on cancer and diabetes. Next on her list is raising money to help nurses from developing countries attend an International Conference for Cancer Nursing in September 2012.

“Simply asking what is needed is the most effective way to help,” explains Mary. During one visit, the nurses identified the need for breast cancer screening, and Mary quickly raised $1,000 to help 18 high-risk women travel to Antigua for mammograms; she continues to take in donations for this purpose.

It’s not just Montserrat that benefits from Mary’s energy and fundraising skills. In one year alone, she raised $10,000 through the Sunnybrook Run for Research. She points to a plaque on her wall reading, “Top Staff Fundraiser for Sunnybrook’s Run for Research.” Mary’s name is highlighted for every year from 1996 to 2004. “The Sunnybrook Foundation eventually said, ‘Just keep it.’”, she says proudly.

THE POST-GRADUATE TRAINEE

GAINING A BROADER EXPERIENCE

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DR. MARCELO STEVENSEN didn’t pursue his childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian, or an engineer like his grandfather, or working in the family bakery in Mexico – but family certainly helped guide his fulfilling career in medicine and vision care.

It was his mother’s acute angle closure glaucoma that influenced him to specialize in the disease, the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness, after earning his medical degree at the University of Monterrey. He specialized in ophthalmology at the Instituto Tecnologico de Monterrey, and then ventured north for a year’s study at the Ophthalmic Consultants of Texas, a leading eye care centre.

Last June, he left the sweltering heat of Monterrey (Mexico’s industrial hub, brimming with rich history, culture and breathtaking mountains), to come to Toronto to complete his clinical fellowship in ophthalmology. “My first impressions were how incredibly large, busy and dynamic Sunnybrook was, and how well organized the ophthalmology clinic was despite the high patient flow and complexity of cases,” says Dr. Stevensen.

Dr. Stevensen is now training under Dr. Catherine Birt, a leading glaucoma and cataract specialist. His fellowship research project examines whether the anatomical preexisting conditions of each patient are related to the visual outcome of cataract surgery. “I focus on the fact each patient case is different, and can be controlled and treated with either drops, pills, a laser procedure or surgery. Glaucoma surgery is my main interest, along with the post-operative care, which accounts for 50 per cent of the surgery’s success.”

At the age of 32, now Dr. Stevensen is winding down one leg of his professional journey, only to soon begin another. In June, he will finish his fellowship at Sunnybrook and return 3,000 kilometres home to Monterrey, to realize his dream of joining an ophthalmology practice and becoming a part-time professor at his alma mater.

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