It was just after 8 am EDT on the morning of October 17, 2017, that news of Gord Downie’s death started coming out. By 9, the whole country had been plunged into mourning.
With today being the first anniversary of Gord’s death, there are plenty of stories. Here are a couple.
Choir! Choir! Choir! salute
Last Thursday (October 11), Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir! performed a hooray-for-pot-legalization event sponsored by Up Cannabis, the company in which The Tragically Hip have an investment interest. Rob Baker and Johnny Fay joined the group for songs like this.
Forbes on Gord’s sense of purpose
Gord Downie passed away a year ago on October 17, 2017. When Downie received the news about terminal brain cancer, I often think he used the opportunity to double down on his quest to live a life of higher purpose.
The shocking news understandably saddened many of his fans. As the lead singer of arguably Canada’s most prolific band—the Tragically Hip—I suspect their sorrow was aligned more with Downie’s original purpose: rock star.
After all, between the mid-1980’s and up until the May 2016 announcement of the rare form of cancer that he possessed—glioblastoma multiforme, the same type of brain cancer that took the lives of John McCain and Beau Biden—most people would associate Downie with the Tragically Hip. That is what he was: a rock star and lead singer of a famous rock band.
And he performed that role—his original purpose—so incredibly well.
Behind the scenes with Gord Downie’s doctor
The Globe and Mail has this story today.
It began with a routine e-mail.
A neurosurgeon from Kingston wrote to me in Toronto, looking for help: “I have a new patient referral. 51 year old male post temporal lobectomy for GBM resected in Kingston … name is Gord Downie.”
“Tragically Hip, or a coincidence?” I wrote back, and seconds later learned the awful truth. Like many Canadians, I was a big fan. That doesn’t mean his illness was any more special or sad than any other patient at the Toronto cancer centre where I work, but I understood that this would be a journey unlike any other. To paraphrase Hip lyrics, it was going to get exciting, but certainly wasn’t fair.
Glioblastoma (GBM for short) is a horrible disease. No one who has it can escape its grasp, even if you are a Kennedy, a Biden or a McCain. Gord Downie understood this and was remarkably content from the start. He believed in Canada, and knew that he would receive the best possible treatment in the world. Medical tourism and chasing rainbows can take precious time away from your purpose.
In March, 2016, he was a mess.