The irony that Dr Terry Sparling died from a rapidly progressive cancer was not lost on his close friends because Terry had devoted his medical career to caring for patients with cancer. An enormous number of his patients, but probably only a small number of his colleagues, really appreciated the significant influence that Dr Sparling had on the development of cancer services in British Columbia.
Dr Sparling was the director of medical oncology at Shaughnessy Hospital in the 1980s and took that clinic to the Burnaby Hospital in the 1990s. During those years he was also a consultant to the BC Cancer Agency and Vancouver General Hospital, and he played a major role in the development of the internal medicine programs in both Shaughnessy and Burnaby Hospitals. He was on the Board of Directors of the Seymour Medical Clinic in Vancouver and, from 1988 to 1993, was head of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at UBC Hospital.
Dr Sparling completed his pre-med at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, medicine at Queen’s University in Ontario, and was awarded FRCPC in internal medicine in 1977 and FRCPC in hematology in 1978. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, had academic and teaching responsibilities with UBC’s Faculty of Medicine from 1977, and was a clinical associate professor of medicine at the time of his death. His career included clinical research, teaching, and administration, and he was even a visiting scholar to the San Diego Hospice and Palliative Care Program. His achievements included heading the Division of Medical Oncology at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from 2000 to 2006 and, maybe because he was an ardent sailor, he followed that up as chief of oncology for the Bermuda Hospitals Board.
Most of my personal memories of Terry stem from our days on the BC Medical Association Cancer Committee, and later when he was a vocal part of the BC Cancer Agency network of community cancer clinics. As a founding member of the BC Cancer Agency, the then-BCMA—through its Cancer Committee—was on the BC Cancer Agency Board and played a major role in its every decision until that bond was removed in the 2000s.
Dr Sparling was a champion of patient-centred care before that term became popular, and he was always willing to voice his rather strong opinions about how cancer services should be delivered in this province. Through his care, his clinics, his teaching, and his strong voice on the Cancer Committee, Dr Terry Sparling had a significant influence on cancer patient care in British Columbia.
—Jack Chritchley, MD
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