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Dr. Brian Toyota: Who is this guy?

December 5, 2011

Hello, my name is Brian Toyota. I am very pleased to be the BC Cancer Foundation’s December guest blogger.

I was invited to guest blog because I am the Provincial Chair of Neuro-Oncology at the BC Cancer Agency (the Agency). This also means I am responsible for maintaining the highest possible level of care for all people diagnosed with a brain tumour in the province of B.C. and to build and enhance the future of brain tumour care and research. In other words, I am simply the captain of a broad team of people at the Agency devoted to caring for people who face the diagnosis of a brain tumour.

Beyond my Provincial Chair title, I mainly spend my workdays as a neurosurgeon, a.k.a. brain surgeon, father to six children (aged 8 to 21), and wannabe golfer and hockey player.

I was born in Montreal and went to medical school at McGill University; hence my allegiance to the Habs (home to 24 Stanley Cups, for the record) – sorry Canuck fans (home to zero Stanley Cups, common knowledge). After medical school, I went to Hawaii for excitement and fun and had full intentions of becoming both a pediatric general surgeon and a world-class surfer. But God had other plans.

Pediatric surgery turned out to be not as appealing to me, and it turns out there are sharks in Hawaii, so surfing was out of the question after learning that!

Instead, I was inspired to do brain surgery…and I also met my wife Shirley. I brought both inspiration and my wife back to Canada—from Waikiki to London, Ontario. In hindsight, I do not recommend this relocation strategy to impress a new bride.

Soon after, I completed my neurosurgical residency at the University of Western Ontario and moved to B.C. in 1993. I began work at St. Paul’s Hospital before moving to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and the BC Cancer Agency, in 1996.

I eventually became Provincial Chair of Neuro-Oncology, and since then our group has grown dramatically and advanced the program significantly.  To give you an idea of the advances, I’ll talk about the nature of brain tumours and our efforts in B.C. that ensure British Columbians have access to the best possible brain tumour care.