Story of our Remembered Hero Brian Rushton, written by his daughter Alison and family
My dad was born in Lethbridge, Alberta and grew up in Trail, BC. Growing up he didn’t have the easiest life so he worked very hard to build himself a future. My mom and he were married in 1967. He went to school at the Vancouver Vocational institute and BCIT in Vancouver, BC where he received his civil and structural technology certificate in 1970. He spent his adult years working for large engineering firms and worked on many high profile buildings in Vancouver, such as BC place & The Vancouver Library, and other cities around the globe. He could be found inspecting a staircase or two and would want to see all the famous bridges wherever he was traveling.
He spent most of his life in hockey rinks, and to a lesser degree, the ski slopes, throughout BC. This was somewhat ironic given that my dad was a tad shaky on the ice (putting it mildly), but not so when you realized all that mattered to him was my mom and us. I know that more now than I probably ever did.
I was a figure skater, my brothers played hockey and we all skied, so that's what my dad did as well. He lived at the rink, well generally any sports venue in the community....baseball diamonds, soccer pitches, swimming pools etc. He also coached and was mentor to not just us but to hundreds of kids in the community. I often reflect on the impact my dad had, not just on us, but others. It was more profound than we know. Sometimes the best coaches are those that have never played the sport themselves. That was my dad! Sports were what connected us to him.
He cheered for the Canucks to the bitter end and never once thought about switching his allegiance. They were one game away from winning it all a few years before his passing but after reflection, being with him to watch the games and ride the highs and lows mattered much more than them wining a trophy that we would not even get our name on. I did not see as many games with my dad as my brothers, and never got to see the great one as an Oiler in the flesh, but I got to see the last one with him. And like my brothers, I got to see the Canucks loose a Stanley cup at home with my dad. He even pulled his grandchildren into a life of sporting disappointment cheering for the Canucks. I think you learn more from loss than you do victory and this was something he taught us.
He lived a van life before all the van lifers ever heard of this lifestyle. We spent countless hours on the roads of BC in the "van". We spent a lot of time waiting for roads that were washed away, covered by a slide or even had rocks that needed to be blasted away to make a path thru. We spent a lot of time as a family in dad’s van, driving to and from Trail especially. A fond memory of these travels was riding in neutral down the Crowsnest pass to just barely make it to town for repairs, just writing that makes me think it was such a bad idea. He never showed us he was ever concerned when things like this happened.
My brothers and I are grateful for the extreme sacrifices he and my mom made to allow us to travel and play sport and give us the childhood we had which made us the people we are now. Still to this day, I am not sure how they did it (perhaps he secretly robbed banks.) We are a tight knit family and we watched as dad always worked hard to give us the things he never had growing up. He never minded taking an extra shift if it meant me and/or my brothers were able to do something else in our own lives. He taught us to work hard for what we want, speak up for ourselves and don’t give up no matter what cards we have been dealt.
I'm not going to talk too much about his treatment and fight as he never wanted to dwell on it when he was alive. I know it was harder on him than he ever spoke about. My mom endured the most difficult times and did so without complaint. That's always the case for the primary care provider and they are just as strong and stoic as those that battle the disease, if not stronger and should be remembered and celebrated in the same way as my dad.
He was diagnosed in the spring of 2000 with CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia). He was only 54 years old and was told, as there was no treatment just symptom management, he would have only 10 years to live. The stoic and proud man he was, was evident when we as a family were not allowed to tell anyone of his diagnosis for almost 7 years. He went thru many rounds of chemotherapy, biologic therapies and even an attempt at a transplant. The year prior to us losing him he was involved in a study for a drug, Ibrutinib that has now become a sort of wonder drug in the industry. He was proud to be what he called “a guinea pig”.
He was a proud man who would come to LTN with me grudgingly but he always enjoyed himself and it made him appreciate he wasn’t alone in this battle. Even when he was ill, his priority was always making sure my mom was ok after he was gone. I’m grateful for the developments made in treatment and saw first hand how during his long progression, developments continued. We had him for 13.5 years after he was diagnosed. He met his grandchildren whom he adored, saw Mom in a place that he felt she would be ok and he was able to see the 3 of us settled and happy with our lives. This was always the thing he wanted to see, the 4 of us happy and we are so grateful research allowed him to see this.
I have been involved in Light the Night now for 15 years or more and it is a great feeling being apart of this community. We as a family are incredibly honoured for dad to be the Remembered Hero for Light The Night this year and appreciate the opportunity to have others learn a little about him and what he meant to us.
Alison and the rest of the family!