Diane was born November 9, 1939 in Peterborough, Ontario. Her carefree youth was spent with summers at the cottage, running around with her dear pal Mary Lindsay and getting herself into mischief. She moved to Toronto in the late 50s to follow in her mother’s footsteps and study nursing at the University of Toronto. This is where she met a young law student Jerry Harris who asked her to take a book out of the library for him as he was enrolled at Osgoode, not part of the UofT. She didn’t think much of him at first but after numerous coffee dates, drinks at the Park Hyatt rooftop bar and every movie that came through town, they married in 1963 and were married for nearly 60 years until Jerry’s death in 2020. The couple raised three children, Stephen (wife Yeufen, children Bridget and Jerry), Jeanette (married to the late Richard Wesfield) and Naomi.
Diane worked at the Hospital for Sick Children (she chose paediatric nursing because of her preference of baby feet to adult ones), took a break to raise her family but returned when her youngest was 10-years old. This required her to go back to school to take a refresher course, learn about all sorts of new diseases that hadn’t been discovered her first time round and Kids-Com, the computer system that was now being used. She embraced this new challenge with fervour and enjoyed another 20-plus years in the field before retiring.
A small town girl with a big world curiosity, Diane had a keen interest in current events and was an avid reader. She began each morning curled up in bed with her favourite girl (Maggie), a mocha coffee and her ipad scouring the news both near and far. And when she wasn’t reading the news she had her nose in a book, often finishing a 600 page book in under a week. Her love of learning and of Judaism made her one of Rabbi Morrison’s favourite students at the Beth Emeth Tuesday Torah group and she attended numerous lectures and talks about town…the best ones always being those where refreshments were served.
The picture of perfect health, at age 79 she never took a pill. All this changed in May 2019 when she had bloodwork done for a routine procedure and they discovered she was neutropenic. After following up with hematology she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), an extremely rare form of blood cancer. Every 28 days she would go into the Odette Cancer Center for 7 days of treatment. Given a prognosis of 1-1/2 to 2 years, she beat the odds and went through 27 rounds of treatment before she was informed in January 2021 the cancer had advanced to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and treatment was changed. She had two rounds of chemotherapy but didn’t respond well, was taken off it and a maintenance regiment of blood and platelet transfusions was begun. With her background in medicine Diane did a lot of research and was very involved in her treatment decisions which Dr Chodirker can attest, she’d get a kick out of Diane pulling out her laundry list of questions. She always was pleasant patient, addressed her nurses by name and they treated her as one of their own.
Diane was a generous hostess and loved having people come join her Shabbos or holiday table but after her diagnosis and being immunocompromised, she needed to limit her exposure to crowds, even before Covid. An avid gardener, her garden was her haven and in the nice weather she would have friends come visit her in the backyard.
On the morning of Tuesday November 29th she was getting herself ready for her biweekly trip to C606 for bloodwork and transfusions but suffered a small stroke and had to remain home. She had endured so much over the months that lead up to this and her once strong body had grown tired and frail and by nightfall she took her last breath. A true stoic, she never once complained about her own situation, she’d look around the waiting room at the Odette Center and in true Diane-form would mutter “f@*k cancer.” A lady with a wicked sense of humour and an acrid tongue.
Fortunately Diane was not in pain rather she had bad blood. In light of this and in the memory of Diane, please consider making a donation of blood or platelets.