Janet Jean Drysdale
Dr. Janet Jean Markland
Janet passed away peacefully, early this past Friday morning, August 30th, after a battle with an aggressive case of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. While diagnosed one year ago, she only needed to begin treatment in January 2013. Janet was fortunate to suffer very little during the last seven weeks when she needed hospitalization. She passed away with family beside her and wishing her love and peace.
Janet was born to John and Frieda Markland in Biggar Union Hospital on September 14, 1948. She was raised on the family farm with four siblings and lived near Ruthilda, SK. As a youth, she was active in CGIT, participated in 4-H, sang in her United Church choir and taught Sunday School. She moved to Saskatoon in 1966 and received her Honors Degree in Biology at the University of Saskatchewan in 1970, with special interest in Molecular Genetics. She was especially influenced by one of her professors, Maureen Reever. Janet was accepted into the College of Medicine at the U of S and began her medical degree in that same year.
Janet met Don Drysdale in January, 1973 and they fell in love. Their romance quickly bloomed, and Don proposed in May. They were married on September 29, 1973, shortly after harvest. She progressed to her medical degree at the University of Saskatchewan in 1975, with a certificate in Internal Medicine in 1979, and subspecialty of Rheumatology in 1982. She took time during her studies to have her two children, daughter, Heather in 1979, and son, Mark in 1981.
Janet did her clinical practice as a subspecialist of Rheumatology in Saskatoon, teaching students of all years as a Clinical Professor and traveled throughout the province giving presentations to Family Physicians. She regularly held Rheumatology clinics in smaller communities of the province, to help patients that were far away from any rheumatologists. In over 30 years of practice, Janet saw and treated more than 90,000 patients. She worked tirelessly, treating and advocating for her patients, often working on paperwork and advising patients in the evening from home. Janet had many long time patients, and was lucky enough to get to know some as friends. She was always delighted by cards, gifts, and special Christmas baking from patients. Her final days and weeks were brightened by joyous letters and cards of thanks and well wishes from dozens of patients, which were brought to her hospital room to enjoy.
Janet was active in the Canadian Rheumatology Association for many years, especially on the Human Resources Board, and she was a co-editor of the Canadian Rheumatology Association Journal. Over the years, seeing so many patients, she saw the need for better, faster medical records. She was a pioneer in the electronic medical records (EMR) industry, being the first specialist in Saskatoon to use the system she chose, and soon became an EMR peer-to-peer advisor with the Saskatchewan Medical Association. She was the Saskatchewan researcher for the Scleroderma Registry and was involved in arranging the first Stem Cell Transplant in Western Canada for Scleroderma. Reliable patient education was important to her and she established the first local Rheumatology webpage for her patients and colleagues. She educated practical nurses to examine patients in northern Saskatchewan via TeleHealth, saving travel time and costs for patients. Janet organized and facilitated Early and Advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis educational sessions for patients and caregivers.
Janet made her best efforts to keep caring for her patients, even treating them after her initial diagnosis and between sessions of chemotherapy in the winter and spring of 2013. She was forced to retire suddenly in early June, when her initial treatment failed. Even after this, she had hoped to one day continue to practice medicine if further treatment was successful.
Beyond family, faith, and medicine, her true love in her spare time was gardening. She could be found planting, pruning flowers, weeding, and digging in the earth from early dawn until dusk; from Spring thaw until Fall freeze-up. She had many favorite flowers, but loved them all. Her garden was a gathering place for her family and friends, and was used for charity fundraising for the Lupus and Scleroderma societies. Her garden will be lovingly maintained by her family in her remembrance, and as a tribute to her passion. In living memory of her love of gardening, her family will be planting a tree according to her wishes.
Janet attended Forest Grove Community Church for more than 20 years, and in the last few years was a volunteer serving coffee before services. She had the gifts of generosity, compassion, and service. She regretfully leaves her family to mourn; her husband,Don, of nearly 40 years, her daughter, Heather, her son, Mark, her mother, Frieda Markland, her sisters and brother, Julie McLaren (Hugh d. 1991), Alvena Markland, Dwight (Penny) Markland, and Irene (Calvin) Deobald, sister-in-law Lois Drysdale, as well as aunts and uncles, many nieces and nephews and cousins. She was predeceased by her father, John Markland in 1991.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Arthritis Society, The Canadian Cancer Society, or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada.
The family would like to give thanks to the many medical professionals who helped her in her struggle. Among these, were Dr. Otto Moodley, Dr. Assem El-Sayed, Dr. Mohamed Emara, and staff of the Saskatoon Cancer Centre. Her journey was eased and made more comfortable by the nurses and aides on the Oncology ward at Royal University Hospital. They were loving, attentive and understanding. Thanks also to the caregivers from Home Instead, who kept her company and assisted her over many nights.
Family and friends are invited to attend a Memorial Service in celebration of her life, to be held on Saturday, September 7th, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. at Forest Grove Community Church (502 Webster Street). A special invitation is made to her colleagues and patients to this remembrance. Arrangements in care of David Polzen - MOURNING GLORY FUNERAL SERVICES (306-978-5200) www.mourningglory.ca
Published in The Saskatoon StarPhoenix from Sept. 4 to Sept. 6, 2013