With sadness, we announce that Kyra Woudstra passed away on August 4, from uveal melanoma. She worked incredibly hard over the last three years to do everything she could to get better, but, in the end, it was not enough. Kyra was surrounded that day by some of the people who loved her most, and she died very peacefully in the arms of her husband, Gerard McDonald.
Kyra led an interesting life, with a wealth of experiences. She lived in New York City for 6 years, graduating with a master’s in public policy from the New School and working as a child advocate and on economic development in the South Bronx. She travelled around the world, backpacking through Europe for 3 months in 1989 (with her best friend, her sister Marnie). Then in 2001, spent another 3 months backpacking through Asia, with her husband-to-be, before returning to Toronto to work for the Government of Ontario where she spent the last few years working in the Behavioural Insights unit, nudging Ontarians to better outcomes in a myriad of areas.
Kyra’s heart was in Toronto, with her family and many, many friends, where she grew up and spent most of her too short life. In Toronto, Kyra built a home filled with love, joy and laughter—with her two children, Avery and Evan, and her husband, Gerard. And a few years ago, she enthusiastically welcomed her in-laws, John and Margaret McDonald, to the household. Living with her in-laws was no problem for Kyra, since they seem to like her better anyway!
Kyra leaves behind a large extended family who will miss her—her sisters, Janine, Andrea, Else, Kristie, Dia, and Marnie, and her brother Andy, as well as her brother Yvo, who also passed away from cancer. Given the size of her family, she had innumerable nieces and nephews, but was particularly close with those who were not much younger than her, like Andrew and Adrienne, and Derek and David. Her in-laws, Catriona and Stephen McDonald, and their families, will also miss Kyra.
We will not be having a service or a visitation, given COVID restrictions. Given how COVID-vulnerable Kyra was, out of respect, the family would like to wait until it is safer for people to gather. We are hoping to have a celebration of Kyra’s life in the fall (as public health restrictions allow).
We would also like to thank the amazing team at Princess Margaret Hospital, who did everything they could to help Kyra, including several leading-edge clinical trials, giving Kyra more time, and improving the quality of that time as well. Thanks to Dr. Marcus Butler, Dr. Sam Saibil, and Dr Alexandra Saltman, as well as trial nurses, Nick Feugas and Sarah Boross-Harmer.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation at www.thepmcf.ca or 416-946-6560 or 1-866-224-6560 (option 1), directed to the Melanoma Immunotherapy Research Fund. Online condolences may be made through www.turnerporter.ca
Kyra was an enormous music fan and music was an important part of her life, from singing to the kids as they grew up, to attending shows, to dancing like crazy at 80s nights over the past few years! So, we will leave you with the words from one of her favourite songs from one of her favourite bands, The Waterboys, which express our feelings about Kyra pretty well:
How long will I love you
As long as stars are above you
And longer if I can