One Gift, Generations of Giving: Jean and Angus McKenzie Family Fund

Jun. 15, 2017

“Well it was an emotional day but a very rewarding one!!! Was able to meet with a doctor specializing in ovarian cancer research and make a small donation in my family’s name to his upcoming project! Was an honour to sit and talk with him and have him ask me to assist with the research and input ideas which will help future patients and their families! A huge thank you to Dr. Akira Sugimoto at LHSC for recognizing the need for further research and allowing me to be a part of this amazing project.” – Presley

“You must leave the world a better place because you passed through.” This was a favourite saying of Angus McKenzie. When Jean and Angus McKenzie established their Donor Advised Fund in 2006, they knew they would be able to keep making the world a better place long after they were gone. What they likely did not know was that their family fund would give not only to the broader community, but to support ovarian cancer research, a cause very important to their granddaughter, Presley.Angus McKenzie

During their lifetimes, Jean and Angus McKenzie had a strong presence in the London community, and have left quite a mark. Angus was a founding partner at the law firm McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP, and worked tirelessly in the community. He would say his ‘hobby’ was fundraising and helping charitable organizations. He received the Law Society Medal and a Doctor of Laws from Western University, and his wife Jean served on many non-profit boards. She helped set the bar for women, as she was the first woman President of the Canadian Club of London, and one of the first public representatives on the Council of Nurses of Ontario.

 Presley Wellington, their granddaughter, was diagnosed with a rare type of Ovarian Cancer in 2012. After many surgeries to remove the cancer, Presley and her family are thrilled that she is cancer free. Throughout her journey, Presley has shown great resiliency, and was determined not to let her cancer define her. It did, however, alter her life goals, as she changed her career path and returned to school and enrolled in the RPN program at Fanshawe, where she recently graduated and passed her provincial exam. While attending school, she worked as a PSW in a nursing home and continued to be an avid marathon runner. She now works as a nurse.

Presley wants to spread the word and raise awareness for this terrible disease.   Ovarian Cancer is called the silent killer, because the symptoms often don’t show themselves or not are easily attributed to the disease. The Canadian Cancer Society’s website states that “Ovarian Cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Symptoms appear once the tumour grows into surrounding tissues and organs.

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • need to urinate often (frequency) and/or intense need to urinate (urgency)
  • constipation and/or bloating
  • changes to digestion (such as difficulty eating, feeling full after a small meal, heartburn, gas (indigestion or nausea)
  • feeling of pressure in the pelvic or abdominal area and/or painful intercourse
  • fatigue
  • pain in the legs, lower back, pelvis or abdomen
  • a lump that can be felt (palpable) in the pelvic or abdominal area
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding

This list is not extensive. It is important to have any unusual symptoms checked by a doctor. Please visit the Canadian Cancer Society for more information. 

Presley had several of these symptoms and it never occurred to her or any of the family that this could be ovarian cancer. Presley was lucky that the cancer was found in its early stages and that the quick medical intervention and surgeries saved her life.

Each year, the McKenzie children discuss where the family donation will be directed. In 2016, the vote was for ovarian cancer research. Martha Powell, President & CEO of London Community Foundation, made it her mission to find a ‘local hero’ with a research project in ovarian cancer. Dr. Akira Sugimoto had a project that was tailor-made for the McKenzie family, as his project is to ensure that each patient getting this terrible diagnosis has the necessary support of family, friends and medical professionals. All too often a patient, like Presley, shows up alone and is given the news without any support or understanding of what is to come or how to make the correct decisions for treatment. Presley remembers nothing of her appointment after she was given the news. If Dr. Sugimoto’s research is successful, a support team would be in place to help not only the patient, but to teach the family and friends how to support the patient throughout the process.Presley presents a $14,500 cheque to LHSC for ovarian cancer research through the family fund her grandparents started.

Presley was able to present a $14,500.00 cheque to Dr. Sugimoto to help fund his research. She was thrilled that her family will be able to help other families in their time of need, through the Jean and Angus McKenzie Family Fund.

If you’d like to donate to the Jean and Angus McKenzie Family Fund, please call 519-667-1600.