Profiles – Stories of Inspiration


Trudy Krabbendam was just a young girl in Holland when the Nazis surrounded her family’s home and arrested her parents. Hosting a meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses in November 1941 was enough for them to be sent to a concentration camp.

“About 30 people were present from surrounding villages,” Trudy recalls in her life story. “That night the German soldiers had surrounded the house and threw all the people in a freight car.”

“I was never to see my parents ever again. What a life we were facing.”

Trudy was nine years old at the time and she and her older sister and younger brother ended up staying with various families through the war years.
“It was very hard and sad. My sister was questioned by the Germans over and over, but she was trained not to give anything away. She was only 12 years old.”

Living in a town south of Rotterdam, bombers flew overhead almost nightly.
“Explosions and fires over and over. I can never forget it,” she said. “Boy, that was a relief when the war was over. Canadian soldiers helped to restore the situation when Holland was finally liberated.”

In the early 1950s, Trudy reconnected with Nick Krabbendam, a former classmate. They married and emigrated to Canada in 1955 eventually settling in the Chilliwack area community of Rosedale.

Nick and Trudy soon found work at farms and a vegetable processing plant and they later operated a refrigeration shop and several other businesses over the years in Chilliwack and Vancouver.

Now semi-retired, they moved to Penticton more than three years ago.

Grateful and eager to give to their new community, the Krabbendams have donated $30,000 to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s $20-million campaign to supply medical equipment for the new Patient Care Tower at Penticton Regional Hospital.
Nick said they heard about the hospital expansion and wanted to support the Foundation campaign. Trudy recently underwent hip surgery which required her to remain at PRH for more than three weeks.

“We have not done too badly in our lives, so we felt we could spare some money,” he explained. “It would be nice if the government would pay for everything, but it’s tough for them to do that because they’ve got so many (projects).”

Nick said a well-run hospital is necessary for everyone in the community. New and improved equipment will be a definite benefit.
“There’s always new equipment coming out, but it takes money,” he said.

A naming opportunity program is in place where applications can be made to name rooms and clinics in the hospital for those who donate at least $30,000.

Nick noted having a family name associated with a room at PRH will probably have just as much meaning to the younger generations. The Krabbendams have three surviving children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Construction of the PRH expansion will get underway in early 2016.


Brenda Coffin got to ring the bell in the Oncology Department at Penticton Regional Hospital.

That’s how many cancer patients celebrate the end of their chemotherapy treatment at PRH. The bell is engraved with the words: Never give up, never surrender.

For Brenda, she had the added bonus of having her parents and two daughters on hand for the occasion.

Her family’s story started on Christmas Eve 2015, when Brenda’s younger sister Peggy learned she had breast cancer.

Living in Calgary, Peggy used a video link to inform Brenda and other family members gathered at their parents home in Vernon on Boxing Day. She would soon undergo a mastectomy.

I went to help her with her appointments in Calgary and she told me I should get a mammogram done because of what she was going through, Brenda recalled.

Although her initial mammogram was clear, a few months later Brenda discovered a lump on her breast which was confirmed to be malignant. Rather than a mastectomy, her doctor performed a less invasive lumpectomy at the cancer clinic in Kelowna last summer.

Brenda then started chemotherapy in Penticton at the Oncology Department at PRH. After six rounds of treatment (each round three weeks apart), she completed her chemo treatment on Feb. 23, 2017. Her final chemo session turned into a family affair. Her two daughters, Chloe and Gracie made a special sign to commemorate the occasion which they brought into the hospital for their Mom.

Brenda said having her daughters stop by for her final treatment was great. They’re my sweeties, she said. When I first told them I had cancer, they said: Mom, we’re going to help you, we’re going to get you through this.

Brenda noted her sister’s experience battling cancer helped her as well.

I was able to use that as a reassurance that we would get through this, just as Aunty Peggy did, she said. There’s just amazing doctors and staff here in Penticton. I was just so impressed from the lab techs to getting my mammogram everybody has been absolutely amazing, especially the oncology team.

Brenda Coffin is now undergoing follow-up radiation treatment in Kelowna. Although she does not require scans by a SPECT-CT machine, she applauds the recent donation of the nuclear medicine equipment for PRH by Penticton businessman David Kampe.

The South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation still has $7 million to raise in its $20-million campaign to provide the medical equipment for the PRH expansion, now under construction. For more details, contact the Foundation office at 250-492-9027.


When a health emergency strikes, families can often suffer emotionally just as much as the patient. Just ask Cida and Sieg Tennert who went through the emotional wringer after their son, Chris was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Chris was 25 years old when a doctor at Penticton Regional Hospital discovered a tumour the size of a ping-pong ball in his brain on August 22, 2014.

For two weeks prior to the diagnosis, Chris had awoken in the middle of the night with severe headaches. He wondered if they were caused by his work, setting up large tents for community events and weddings for his family’s company Westminster Party Rentals. We were setting up for Boonstock. It was dusty and very hot, he recalled. I read that headaches can be caused by dehydration, so I would drink. Oddly enough, when I took my head off my pillow the pressure would decrease. Although Chris would fall back to sleep, his headaches grew progressively worse. A few nights later he woke up and started vomiting. His parents realized he should be taken to hospital. The emergency ward physician at PRH ordered a CT scan and discovered a mass in Chris’s brain, which turned out to be a 2.5-centimetre tumour.

Within a couple of hours he was on an air ambulance en route to Vancouver. He was also very much alone. The family was so busy with work, no one could accompany Chris on that initial flight. His mother, Cida was able to later fly to Vancouver, but couldn’t find a vacant hotel room during the peak tourist season. Instead, she stayed overnight in the visitors area of Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). Surgeons in Vancouver were able to remove much of the tumour. They also removed the blockage caused by the tumour in the ventricle which was giving me headaches, he said. The worst night was after the third ventricular surgery because the pain was extremely severe. The pain was so intense, Chris wasn’t sure if he wanted to live any longer. I told the nurse I was scared. I didn’t think I was going to survive this because it was really bad, he recalled. But the next morning, the pressure was all gone. All the pain was relieved. It was one heck of a feeling to feel normal again.

Tennert was discharged from VGH on Sept. 8, 2014 18 days after being admitted. Doctors had told him that, if his tumour had been left untreated, he was likely just hours or a couple of days away from being in coma. Chris’s health is now greatly improved and the remaining portion of the tumour continues to shrink, but it’s still a challenge. At times he wondered if he was a burden to his parents who took care of him while he recovered. Physically I’m better, mentally I’m better, he said. Balance is still a problem I’m a little wobbly, but I have no headaches anymore. That is the joy. Radiation treatment ended on Nov. 21, 2014.

Now 26, Chris is striving to get his life back on track. He has enrolled in a math program at Okanagan College. Cida said despite all the emotional turmoil, in the end you realize the situation may be serious, but not insurmountable. You have to learn how to help a loved one deal with the health issue and build a new life. You learn so much and you discover you are not alone, she said. You learn there are people in worse situations than you are.

The Tennerts fully support the upcoming Patient Care Tower expansion at PRH, especially the major upgrade to the emergency room which will be almost four times its existing size. In addition to reduced waiting times for emergency patients, the overall health care scenario is improved. I think there should be more resources, especially in the Emergency Room, said Cida. The first diagnosis is very important. Look what happened with Chris. He is here today because of the first action of a doctor.


Bob Trask Sr. was 63 years old when his heart went crazy.

It was a massive heart attack and he was rushed to Penticton Regional Hospital. I only had 24 per cent of my heart functioning properly, he recalled. After initial treatment and tests at PRH over the next few weeks, Trask agreed to become involved in a test study of a newly-developed cardiac implant. Much different from a pacemaker, this was basically a defibrillator implanted into his chest. He was transported by air ambulance to Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria to undergo surgery on Nov. 8, 2006 and was discharged two days later.

Trask returned to Penticton and underwent continued testing in Kelowna and Penticton in the months that followed. His first-hand experience at the Penticton hospital was like turning on a light. Trask was already serving as provincial chairman of the heart and stroke committee for the Fraternal Order of Eagles. I owe the hospital, big time, he said. The support I get here is really something else.

Following his heart attack, he convinced all 23 Eagles aeries in B.C. to donate to heart care at their own local hospitals as well. The Penticton Eagles aerie and its auxiliary donate about $10,000 a year to the cardiac unit at PRH through the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. The Eagles are now considering whether to commit to raising $30,000 over five years to sponsor a patient room in the new Patient Care Tower at PRH through the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation. The Foundation will be raising $20 million for medical equipment in the $325-million project.

Trask said the hospital expansion should have occurred a long time ago. Being in your hometown and having your care here is so vital, he said. I have all the trust in the world in the staff. But I don’t think they have enough to work with. This new hospital will give it to them. Trask said the staff at PRH truly care about their patients and are willing to take the time to ensure that quality level of care. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them and if it wasn’t for the money they raise that’s put into the hospital, he said.

The Penticton Eagles Aerie has more than 600 members, making it the largest aerie in B.C.