Dr. Spencer R. McLean, FRCSC




Spencer passed away peacefully on June 24, 2013, surrounded by his family after a short but courageous battle with cancer. He is deeply missed by his soul mate and wife Christina (Frangou), his parents Roy and Charlotte, his brother Brendan and wife Kim, and the Frangou family, Panayiotis, Josephine, Nicole, Martin, Evan, Jen and Sarah. Uncle Spencer will always be adored by his nephews, Lukas and Noel, to whom he was completely devoted. No one gave better airplane rides or knew more about helicopters than Uncle Spencer.

Spencer was born in Victoria, B.C., and raised in Grand Forks, B.C., and Fernie, B.C. He spent much of his childhood skiing, biking and camping with his family. These activities were fundamental to his happiness throughout his life. As he often said, “you can take the boy out of Fernie but you can’t take Fernie out of the boy.”

Spencer moved to Calgary in 1996 to study at the University of Calgary, where he completed a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology, medical school and residency in orthopaedic surgery. Two months before the end of his residency, Spencer was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell carcinoma. Despite his illness, he wrote and excelled in his board exams for the Royal College of Surgeons. On June 13, 2013, he achieved his dream of becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Spencer was known for his kindness, wit, sense of humor, his athleticism and his devotion to family and work. This year, he gave up his vacation time to save lives in Haiti with Team Broken Earth. He always knew the names of everyone he worked with, his patients and their families. Even at his sickest moments, Spencer took time to teach nursing students or greet with a smile those who were caring for him. He inspired every physician, nurse and staff member who came in contact with him.

Above all else, he was a devoted husband. He was married nearly three happy years to his wife Christina. For both, their marriage was their greatest accomplishment. His life, while short, was a life well lived.

The family extends a grateful thank you to the staff of Foothills Medical Center and Unit 46, Dr. Daniel Heng and Dr. Michel Henin for the care and compassion shown to Spencer and his family during these two difficult months. A special thank you to his mentors Dr. Geoff Seagram, Dr. Paul Duffy, Dr. Norman Schachar, Dr. Rick Buckley, Dr. Jim Powell, Dr. Robert Korley, Dr. Shannon Puloski, Dr. Ian Le and the many others who helped Spencer achieve his dreams. Thank you to his friends Dr. Prism Schneider, Dr. Paul Cantle, Dr. Gerald Cole and Dr. Jeremy LaMothe for everything along the way.

Prayers will be held at 5:00 p.m. Monday, July 1st, 2013 at Sacred Heart Church, Calgary, 1307 14 St SW, with funeral service Tuesday, July 2nd at 2:00 p.m. Memorial tributes in Spencer’s name may be made to Team Broken Earth (www.brokenearth.ca/calgary.html) or to Kidney Cancer Canada (www.kidneycancercanada.ca).


For Spencer

Hi everyone,

Thank you for your support and love. You’ve sent amazing messages that have meant so much to Christina and Spencer, and to me, too.

Many of you have asked what you can do to help. Thanks to Christina’s sister and brother-in-law, Nicole and Martin, we have a good answer: you can donate here. Christina and Spencer will be facing mounting medical bills, not to mention student loan payments for his medical studies. Any funds raised will help relieve that financial stress.

In just the few days since Nicole and Martin have launched the FundRazr, the funds raised have been incredible. Chris and Spence have posted a thank you message on the FundRazr site, so please do head there to check it out. (The link again, is here.)

If you feel you’d like to help, even the smallest donation will make a big, big difference.

Thanks again for your support, friends.





Goodbye For Now

Hi everyone,

I’m back from Italy, a trip that was lovely but that I wandered through with a heavy heart. I’m devastated that Spencer is sick. Christina has been an incredible friend to me since we met when I moved to Calgary. When she met Spencer, I was lucky to gain another incredible friend.

I’ve had the privilege to watch Christina and Spencer together many times – whether it’s been during our dinners at OJ’s or over sushi, watching Oscars at their condo or relaxing at my family’s cabin – and I know that their relationship will be such a force in fighting his illness. Individually, they are both strong, awesome people; together, they are an unstoppable team.

As for the Toque Girls blog, Christina and I have always said that we’re in this together. We’re both in or we’re both out. I fully support Christina’s choice to stop writing and, so, this will be my last blog post. We’ve had such a great time with you for nearly three years, but it’s time to move on. This summer, I want to spend time with Christina and Spencer, my family and my friends. I can think of nothing more important.

So, to our readers, thank you for your support the last three years, for encouraging us along the way, for the many kind comments you left on Christina’s post last week. You have moved us.

To Spencer, thank you for your friendship, not to mention your support of our blog since Day 1. You’ve been our one and only Toque Guy. To Christina, I couldn’t ask for a better friend or co-blogger. Thank you for being you.

We’ll tackle the next chapter together.



The Next Chapter

This is the hardest post I’ve ever written. It will also be my last.

Last Friday, my husband, my true love, Spencer, was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer. We are devastated and stunned.

For five years, we — he, really — have given up so much to get through his surgical residency. So many weekends apart, so many nights he spent in the hospital, so many things we didn’t have time to do together. Now, here we are, two weeks from the end of residency, and everything has suddenly crumbled. I feel like we’ve been pushed off the roof of a skyscraper and we’re falling so slowly and so quickly at the same time. Everyone who loves us is reaching out to grab us, but we’re still falling.

Over the last three years, I often felt like I gushed about Spencer too much on the blog. But I couldn’t help it. We are true loves and best of friends. He is the centre of my world. During our wedding ceremony, the priest asked each of us why we wanted to marry to the other. I said that it’s because my happiest moments are always with Spencer. That remains true and will always be true.

So I am giving up the blog. I have to dedicate all my energy to the battle we have ahead. We can do this. My husband is exceptional in every way. He’s young, strong, an incredible athlete. He’s driven and motivated. He does amazing things. And he will be exceptional here.

To our readers, thanks for checking in everyday. Please remember Spencer in your thoughts and prayers. To my co-blogger, Michelle, thank you for your kindness and love. I know you’ll post when you get home from Italy and tell everyone about your plans. To our friends and family, Spencer and I feel tremendously loved and we know you are an army around us. Our nephews are magic to us.

To Spencer, you know how I feel. I don’t need to tell you here. xo




What’s in my purse

The other day, someone asked me for dental floss. This might seem random, but not to my friend or me — you can count on me to always have floss on hand. That got me thinking about that magazine feature that shows what celebrities always carry in their purses. I don’t know why that’s so intriguing to me, but I love it. Considering there are some things that you’ll find in my purse 100 percent of the time, I thought it would be fun to share those items with you. (You might not care at all. If that’s the case, come back Wednesday please. If you do, sweet. I’ll try to make this as entertaining as possible.)

Here’s what you’d find, if you went digging through the Marc Jacobs bag I’ve carried every day since my parents gave it to me two Christmases ago:

Purse contents

  1. A wallet I bought at Purr too many years ago to count. It’s beat up and tired but still kicking. My access card for work is usually stuffed inside, along with too many receipts.
  2. Dental floss because nothing is worse than a rogue piece of kale stuck in between my teeth.
  3. Two pens: a beautiful silver one that was a gift from my brother and a random one thrown in, just in case I’m digging and can’t find the good one.
  4. Too many lip glosses and pencils for one girl. As I’m running out the door in the morning, I often grab one from my collection that suits my mood and throw it into my bag. But I rarely taken any out of my purse. I once had 11 lip glosses in there. No wonder my right shoulder is always so sore — I’m lugging around lip products to meet the needs of an entire gaggle of girls.
  5. A lovely silver mirror — to aid in lip product application — that was a gift from my cousin, Tamara, for being a bridesmaid in her wedding. My name is engraved, as is the date of her wedding. So pretty.
  6. Travel brush. I hate having tangled hair. True story.
  7. Bobby pins. You never know when your bangs will annoy you.
  8. 5, my favourite gum. Note: it’s black and people will think you’re missing teeth when you chew it. I don’t care. It keeps its flavour forever.
  9. A snack, like a Vega protein bar, lest I get hangry.

So, those are my essentials. What do you always have in your bag? Do tell. I love this stuff.