John's Story: A Tribute to Jeff

John's Story: A Tribute to Jeff

It was 12 years filled with ups and downs, new experiences, and best of all, a love for life that John Graham remembers most about his brother’s journey with a brain tumour.

When Jeff was diagnosed with an astrocytoma in the late 1990s, it was the Graham family’s first time learning about the disease. Looking back on that time, John remembers his brother’s initial hospital visits and is still astounded at Jeff’s positive attitude. “He was such an incredible optimist. Even with the prognosis he was given, he never let it get him down. He lived each day as a blessing.”

For more than a decade, Jeff weathered the highs and lows of brain tumour surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy, all with the understanding that he wanted to control the disease – not the other way around. “He was still Jeff through it all, he wouldn’t let the tumour be what defined him,” recalls John. “He was an amazing athlete and even kept up playing in his flag football league after his surgery.”

In November 2009, at the age of 40, Jeff passed away at a hospice in Oakville, Ontario. He had far surpassed his original prognosis, living a full life right up to his last days, and was grateful for every minute he lived. Jeff spent much of his final summer at the cottage with his wife and two children – a special time for their family.

Throughout Jeff’s journey he maintained a close connection with Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Having first been referred to the organization by a member his health care team, Jeff and his loved ones took part in Information Days and were supporters of the Toronto Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk). The family even continues to take part in Spring Sprint to this day.

After Jeff’s death, friends and loved ones wanted to find a way to celebrate both Jeff’s life and his unwavering commitment to the charity closest to his heart. That’s when two flag football league-mates, Mike Dukart and Kevin McCabe, rallied to form the Jeff Graham Memorial Golf Classic– a fitting tribute to Jeff as he was an avid golfer. The annual community event started in 2010 and since then has raised more than $15,000 to help brain tumour patients and their families.

Now, John Graham and Jeff’s friend Vince Carbert have taken the reins of the tournament and are gearing up for the September 2013 event. When asked how the two find the time to coordinate and host such a large tribute to Jeff, John says it’s the best way they can imagine to carry on his legacy. “This is our public way of honouring Jeff and his strength. And even if the size of the event ever changes, what matters most is that we can come together and celebrate his life. That’s what is important.”

Jeff was committed to raising awareness and he shared his story in this 2008 video:

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Story posted: August 2013


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