Dr Marcia Prest, beloved by so many, tragically passed away earlier this year after an illness. She was 69 years old.
Marce was born in Victoria. She obtained her BSc from the University of Waterloo and her medical degree from Queen’s University, in 1979. Her 3 years of residency at downtown Toronto hospitals included medical forays to Moosonee and Moose Factory, as well as to England to train with Dame Sherlock. Marce then moved to Ottawa for 2 years of GI residency at Ottawa General Hospital and Ottawa Civic Hospital, and subsequently 4 years in practice at the National Defence Medical Centre.
In 1988, Marce opened her practice across the street from Surrey Memorial Hospital and was the city’s first staff gastroenterologist. Marce’s near constant presence was transformative for patient care in Surrey, as it meant that patients did not have to be transferred elsewhere for endoscopy, and no doubt countless lives were saved. Marce’s tireless work and dedication cannot be overstated; many of us feel she was one of the hardest-working physicians we have ever met. The days were long, frequently spent working into the night, spanning 33 years, always at the service of the referring doctors and, of course, the patients.
What was truly special about Marce was this work ethic paired with kindness toward everyone she touched, whether patient, colleague, or friend. She went above and beyond for her patients, providing services for free (disability forms and the like), writing letters to advocate for them for social supports, and even treating one hepatology patient and their family every year to a hotel stay in downtown Vancouver with tickets to the Liver Ball. There are so many examples of her generosity over the years.
Marce was not just kind, but also poised, wise, and elegant. She reminded me of a blonde Audrey Hepburn. She was a beautiful force to behold in her element, whether it was standing next to the bedside of a patient and compassionately explaining their health challenges to them or seeing her with intensity in her sparkling blue eyes as she scoped an ICU patient and saved yet another life. Marce was, therefore, a popular gastroenterologist and was highly sought after in the Fraser Valley and beyond, regularly receiving referrals from across the province. She balanced her busy practice with a personal life full of varied interests—cooking classes, exercise classes, biking, skiing, French lessons, golf lessons, and gardening—and raising her two children.
Marce leaves behind her wonderful husband, David; their two children, Andrew and Samantha; her son-in-law, Brad; her two darling grandchildren, Rio and Dom; and countless friends and colleagues who loved her. She was adored by so many, and her passing is a tragic, massive loss.
I miss you so very much, Marce, and though I do not think I will ever recover from your loss, I was blessed to have you as a close friend, mentor, and work partner. As I walk through Surrey Memorial Hospital, I think I can still hear your footsteps going click click click as you raced from patient to patient in those hallways, always a smile on your face. Rest in peace, dear Marce.
—Davinder K. Sandhu, MD
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