Gary & Karen Evjen

Gary & Karen Evjen

Volunteer Profile

 Photo: Karen and Gary Evjen at Calgary Information Day

A devoted music teacher with a zest for life, Gary Evjen took his April 2006 diagnosis of a malignant brain tumour in a way that Karen, his wife of 34 years did not expect. Because of the confusion surrounding gradually worsening symptoms due to an unknown left frontal lobe tumour, Gary was happy and relieved to finally have a diagnosis, even if that meant immediate surgery. Always a team, Gary and Karen were anxious to work together on tackling this obstacle, even with the prognosis of three to five years to live. Today, Gary and Karen have turned this life-changing diagnosis into an opportunity to support others by volunteering their time to benefit other brain tumour patients.

Immediately after Gary was admitted to the hospital, Karen came home and began her research. "I discovered Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada online and ordered the patient handbook immediately," Karen explains. "It arrived within the week and it seemed like it did not leave Gary’s hands for the next year and half. It became his ‘bible.’"

After the first year of surgeries, radiation treatments and a heart attack, the couple began attending the Saskatoon support group in May 2007. When the opportunity to step into the role of convenor for the group presented itself in the fall of 2009, Gary and Karen took on the challenge with passion. "We love that it is our job to help create an inviting, caring and supportive environment for survivors, their family and friends."

This dynamic duo dedicates their time and provides brain tumour support and information in many other ways as well. In the fall of 2009, they shared their story with guests at the 2009 London and Calgary Information Days evening receptions. They also hosted the Hats Tribute along with an information display at Royal University Hospital to mark October as Brain Tumour Awareness Month.

The Evjens are now preparing for another display at Brain Blast Saskatoon City Hospital on March 21, 2010. Planning for a fundraising steak night is also underway. They have also participated in the past three Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk) fundraising events in Saskatoon. This year's event happens Saturday, May 29 at Meewasin Trail. "We love to meet other volunteers, hear the personal stories of survivors, to give others support and to share information," Karen says explaining the couple’s dedication.

Currently, Gary does not take any medication for his tumour and his condition is monitored with regular MRIs. He also keeps busy with music teaching and drumming in jazz and klezmer bands.

While Gary and Karen continue to show immense leadership in Saskatoon they note, "We need the support group as much as anyone; there is something very special and unspoken about the experience of knowing you are not alone on this journey."

Thank you Karen and Gary for your dedication care and kindness to everyone you meet through all your efforts in Saskatoon. Together we are continuing to improve the quality of life for survivors in Saskatoon and Canada.

Your help is needed to support the brain tumour community. Roles are available in most communities across the country.

If you are interested in donating your time and talent, please contact:

Jennifer McIntosh
Volunteer Services Specialist
jmcintosh@braintumour.ca
1-800-265-5106, ext. 231


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