Chad Bayne and his wife Ruth had a love story for the ages. “We did it all,” says Chad, “we travelled the world. We had successful careers. We have two beautiful daughters, a beautiful home and great friends and family we had an amazing life.” However, their love story was strained early on by Ruth’s cancer diagnosis, although this would not fully derail their future plans. “We knew we were playing with borrowed time, so we lived every day to the fullest.”
Ruth’s illness came to a head in 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Ruthie had surgery in May of 2020, and because of the pandemic and its restrictions and lockdowns, we couldn’t go in to see her. Those four weeks were the longest we were ever apart. There were times when I couldn’t reach her and I didn’t know what was going on. It was stressful for everyone.”
Unfortunately, the surgery didn’t improve Ruth’s long-term prognosis, which meant the Bayne family had some difficult decisions to make. “We knew we were looking at palliative care. And we also knew the pandemic was not going to make that easy keeping her in hospital meant keeping her away from the people who loved her.” So, the Bayne family decided that Ruth should pass away at home and receive support from the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care.
Sinai Health’s Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care is dedicated to ensuring patients with life-limiting illness experience the highest possible quality of life — from the time of diagnosis, through managing pain, addressing active issues and preventing further complications, to finally helping patients and families cope with loss and grief. The Centre cares for more than 2,200 people at home and over 700 patients in hospital each year.
“The work the team did was integral to keeping her comfortable, and giving us that time together at home,” says Chad. “They made an incredibly arduous and most emotional experience more manageable. I cannot imagine what it would have been like had we not received their support. I cannot fathom the option in which Ruth was unable to pass away at home.”
“We decided we wanted this to be a family thing. I did as much as I could I took a leave of absence from work to be Ruth’s caregiver. Nonetheless, the team at the Temmy Latner Centre made a huge difference. Having that extra person there to help do the things I couldn’t, enabled me to have a bit of a break every day. It made our experience bearable.”
Ruth Bayne passed away on December 31, 2020, when Ontario was in a strict COVID-19 lockdown. Chad and his family lost the ability to have a real funeral for Ruth. “There could only be nine of us present. It was surreal.” They lost the ability to have their cultural traditions there was no shiva, no gathering. “Those rituals exist for a reason,” says Chad, “it was very hard on us all to lose Ruthie and it was compounded by the fact we could not properly celebrate her life with our family and friends.”
To help manage this most tragic time, Chad has relied on the values he and Ruth shared to help him navigate the future. “There were several organizations that Ruth specifically called out even in her obituary as being ones she valued. We have means and resources at our disposal thanks to my and Ruth’s careers. We were able to get us what we needed. We have opportunities other people do not. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to go through what we endured, without adequate resources or means. Making these tough decisions, trying to care for your family and your kids and support someone who is dying, while worrying about money - I could only imagine how much more daunting that would be.”
Chad started the Ruth Bayne Family Support Fund at Sinai Health, in memory of his wife, and to help underprivileged families who need palliative care support. “It’s a terrible thing to go through,” he says, simply. “If we can make someone else’s life a bit better as they deal with this, all the better. It was important to me to endow the fund, as well, so that it survives in perpetuity. As a family, it felt like the least we could do, under the circumstances.”
While Chad and his daughters are still grieving, remembering Ruth is an important part of their family dynamic. “You know you can never have enough photos, enough videos,” he says. Chad and Ruth’s sense of community commitment and their values are also being passed on to their daughters, as they witness to this fund bearing their family name.
Despite the hardships of the past year, Chad and Ruth’s love story is still a strong one. “My sole regret is that we didn’t get to grow old together. We had twenty wonderful years, but I wish it could have been forever.”
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