Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Oncologist a giant in helping kids win cancer battle

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Numerous Manitobans who fought cancer as children have Dr. Agnes Bishop and the team she created to thank for their lives.

Bishop died Sunday after her own battle with cancer.

Former cancer-fighting colleagues remember Bishop as a trailblazer during a time when pediatric cancer wards were beginning to transform from palliative settings into healing places due to medical advances.

Rick Adams, a lawyer for the Canadian operations of McDonald's Restaurants, helped organize a Ronald McDonald House in Winnipeg. He said he was told to get Bishop on board if it was going to be a reality.

"Aggie never hesitated for an instant," Adams said Thursday. "Before I knew it, I was introduced to doctors, nurses and families who would form the foundation for our project. It is my recollection too... and the opinion of many others at HSC. Aggie Bishop was the driving force at Children's Hospital, not just in oncology, but throughout that hospital and elsewhere at HSC. It is my recollection that she was quite a force.

"As strong an individual as she was, she was a terrific doctor, certainly knowledgeable and experienced, but also very sensitive to the needs of the kids she treated and to the parents of those kids."

Bishop, an oncologist at Children's Hospital, became the first woman to head Children's Hospital in 1985. She was also head of pediatrics at the St. Boniface General Hospital and chairwoman of the University of Manitoba's pediatrics department.

She headed Children's Hospital until 1994, when she turned down the chance to be the first female president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to become president of the Atomic Energy Control Board. While heading the AECB, she led its transition to becoming the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. She left the position in 2001.

Before Dr. Jon Gerrard became a politician, he was the head of pediatric hematology/oncology at Children's Hospital and considered an expert on the treatment of children's cancer through the 1980s.

"She is one of the reasons I came to Manitoba to work at the Children's Hospital," Gerrard said of Bishop.

Dr. Sara Israels, a pediatric oncologist with CancerCare Manitoba, said Bishop was her mentor during her medical training. "She was very special."

Israels said at Bishop's request, there will be no funeral.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2014 A9

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