Bradley Nels Iverson Munro

August 26,1988 – November 4, 2011

  “If Life Was a Stage ~ Bradley Rocked It!”  
     
I relive every night being awakened by the memory of the knocking at our front door at 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 5th, and seeing two R.C.M.P. officers at our home in Kitimat. Right away I knew without being told, it was about Bradley.   I had been trying to reach him.   Brad was exceptional at getting back to me and I knew that something was very wrong when he had not returned my phone calls.  Even if he was burning the candle at both ends with being in the middle of a production that was coming to an end, studying for his final exams and being involved in writing of the script and production manager for the up and coming stage production, Christmas Unwrapped, Brad would have found the time to return my calls.  

We had our worst nightmare come true right before our eyes.   The R.C.M.P. trying to tell us that our son, Bradley was found deceased in his bathtub and I kept saying “This isn’t true….Bradley was a cancer survivor so how could this happen?”  They proceeded to say that your son is deceased and was found by his classmate and one of his professors, Friday evening at 7:30 P.M.   No….I am dreaming….it just isn’t true!  The R.C.M.P. officers said that there were no drugs or alcohol found and that the coroner thought it was due to something medical.  After interviewing his friends, they learned that he had a migraine headache and was vomiting which suggested he had a brain aneurism and an autopsy would be performed to confirm.  

Bradley, at the age of one year was diagnosed with a “Wilms tumor”.   His last visit to the Children’s hospital was at the age of 22 and as a survivor, he was part of a research study group for children diagnosed with this cancer.  We basically held this child for three years while he underwent surgery, chemo and radiation treatments. For him to die so sick and alone is just so gut wrenching. 

Our heads were spinning. Our destination was Kamloops, where our son lay dead, a 14 hour drive in blizzard conditions.  Our eldest son, Kyle, who was finishing his nursing degree at the University of Alberta, flew from Edmonton to Kamloops to meet up with us.  Through Brad’s friends, we now learned of the circumstances that led up to his death.  Wednesday evening, November 2nd, Brad took a friend to the Kamloops Hospital with sciatica pain and it was after leaving the hospital that he started to complain about a headache.   His headache escalated with vomiting.   Brad thought he had contacted the flu because several of his friends were sick with the flu and he had been making homemade soup for them.   Brad asked a friend if he would stay the night, which he did, as he was feeling very ill.  In talking with Brad’s friend, he said that Brad didn’t settle down to sleep until about 5:15 a.m. Thursday morning due to his headache and vomiting.  He took a couple of Advil and when that didn’t work, he thought a bath might help.   His friend left the apartment at 2 p.m. to go to work at which time Brad was sleeping and he didn’t want to wake him up.   His friend contacted another friend that lives in the apartment above him, to check on him when she got off work.   Due to her work shift ending at midnight, she decided not to disturb him if he was sick and sleeping, but would check on him first thing in the morning.  She had tried several times to contact him by phone and text messages, but received no answer.   Other friends as well as we, his mother and father, also tried to contact him without success.   We now learn that his phone was dead and needed charging.    When his friend from the apartment above could not raise Brad either by knocking on the door or telephone, she contacted his professor to see if Brad went to school, as he would not miss class.  Brad was the Teacher’s Assistant, as well as producer and director of the show they were currently putting on.    Both knew something was very wrong, so his professor met with his friend at the apartment and had the manager let them in.   To this day, the scene of Brad deceased in his bathtub, water still running which flooded his apartment, haunts them both.

Monday, November 7th, we went to the Kamloops Hospital morgue to meet up with the Coroner and to see Brad.   I still couldn’t believe what had happened to our son.  Monday afternoon, we were contacted by the person in charge of student services at Thompson River’s University who offered some suites in their student building for ourselves and our families coming from Victoria.   Moving into the student building gave us further opportunity to connect with Brad’s professor and theatre friends.   We were told that his professor and the theatre students were just devastated and having a very hard time with the passing of Brad.   Grief counselors were called in.  

Wednesday, November 9th, we heard back from the coroner that Brad’s death was due to meningitis and not a brain aneurism.   On autopsy, they couldn’t get a good culture to determine the strain of meningitis, the cause of death was reported as drowning although the underlying reason was due to meningitis.  Thursday, November 10th, we said our good-byes to his physical body and Brad was cremated.   Due to Brad having meningitis, he was considered contagious.  We weren’t allowed to have his body prepared as we would have loved.  I knew that proper closure would be required for these students and asked his professor if it was possible for Brad’s friends, to put on a memorial service that would introduce our son to us, the son they knew during his five years at Thompson Rivers University.  They were very pleased with this idea, as it would help the kids to grieve together and be healing.

Saturday, November 12th, the Sagebrush Theatre was packed with over 200 people who gave Brad his well deserved curtain call.   The tremendous outpouring of love and support from the TRU and Kamloops Theatre communities, our dear friends from Kitimat, Bradley’s amazing childhood friends and university classmates was overwhelming.  Brad was one month away from obtaining his Bachelor of Arts degree which was awarded to him posthumously by Dr. Will Garrett-Petts, Associate Dean of Arts.  It was really amazing to see and hear what our son had accomplished in his 23-years, and his five years of university life.  Brad’s goal was to move on to a career in Stage Management.   To quote the President of TRU, Bradley was a very active student on campus with involvement in numerous committees, groups and anything theatre related including assisting in strengthening TRU Pride, Leader of the Drama and Theatre Club, Student Representative on the Comprehensive University Enhancement Fund Committee as well as the Kamloops Community Theatre including Project X and the Western Canada Theatre Company.   He was passionate about the theatre and never did anything half way even if it meant he had to stay up all night.   Bradley was also a mentor to many students and particularly new students without friends to fall back on.   Brad was known as the welcoming person and accepting of all.  “What a terrific kid!”Feeling absolutely vacant and devastated, my husband and I drove to Victoria to be with family and arrange storage for Brad’s belongings.  Our eldest son, Kyle, went back to Edmonton to finish his last semester at the University of Alberta.

November was going to be a trying month as it was.  My sister’s melanoma had returned and she required further testing at the Cancer Clinic in Vancouver.  On Thursday, November 24th, Brian and I accompanied my sister to the Cancer Clinic in Vancouver where she was to undergo a PET scan prior to surgery.  As this procedure was over 2 hours, I went for a walk around the clinic.  Somehow I came across the B.C. Centre for Disease Control that was situated in the same building.   I thought, “How can this be – just the people I need to talk to!”    After walking into the building, I found nobody at the reception desk so I perused the who’s who board and saw the Epidemiology and Immunization Department on the 2nd floor.   I walked over to the elevator and pressed “2” and another person entered the elevator.   He told me I needed a card like he had and I told him I didn’t have one but I needed to talk to someone in that department, as my son had just died of meningitis.   He kindly used his card for me and when the elevator stopped at the 2nd floor, he wished me luck.   I approached the receptionist and told her my story and I needed to talk to someone.   I also told her that my son had been cured of cancer, and for him to die of a vaccine preventable disease is inexcusable.   She told me I was not allowed in there and she would have to send me back to the lobby where security was.   I told her I wasn’t leaving until I talked with someone and there wasn’t any security in the lobby.   I did go back down to the main lobby as she promised she would find someone to talk to me.   A few minutes later she appeared with someone that took my information and promised she would have someone contact me.

True to this person’s word, I received a phone call from Dr. Monika Naus of the Centre for Disease Control and she had done her homework in regards to the circumstances of our son’s death.   She informed me that Brad had received the Men-C vaccine in October 2005, and how the pathologist could not get a good culture to determine the strain of meningitis that Brad had, but determined it was bacterial due to the type of white cells found in the brain tissue.   I told her that Brad was a Children’s Hospital Cancer survivor and how he was cured, and for him to die this way is inexcusable.  I questioned her about why British Columbia does not implement the 4-strain meningitis vaccine in their public immunization program like Alberta did in February 2011.  She told me that bacterial meningitis is very rare, and it was a very costly undertaking, and it was not necessary as the deadly strains originate from Africa.   I told her that I had just spent a week in the student resident building at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and had met with students from all over the world.   Not only did they not know about meningitis, they had never heard of a vaccine.   Furthermore, on our drive back to Victoria, we heard on the news where Thompson Rivers University was on a recruiting campaign to attract more foreign students into the university.   I told her that I had learned that if a person comes from an outbreak area, that they could be carriers and subject our children to this disease.  After hanging up the phone with Dr. Naus, I contacted Brad’s pediatrician/oncologist at B.C Children’s Hospital.   She told me that the coroner contacted her and she was just as devastated about the news as we were.   She had seen Brad since he was one year of age.   She said she remembers her last visit with him and how he was looking forward to completing his Degree and his plans for the future.  She also said that the lesson learned from this for her, was to ensure all of her patients have their immunizations up to date, especially the MCV4 vaccine.  This included her own son.

Wednesday, November 28th, Dr. Monika Naus called me to say that she had forwarded Brad’s cultures to the Children’s Hospital, as they were able to determine the strain of meningitis Brad died of without requiring a live culture.  It was determined that Brad had the “Y” strain.   She also said that this is the most deadly form of bacterial meningitis and the onset of symptoms is just like the flu, but rapidly incapacitated the person within 24 – 48 hours.   She informed me that for Brad to have been saved, he would have had to get medical attention right at the time of the onset of the headache, and even with that there would have been no guarantee of a positive outcome.  Brad’s oncologist send me an email to say that it was good that I went into the Centre for Disease Control and demanded some answers, or we would have never known what strain of meningitis Brad died of.

The coroner did contact us to inform us that she received a report from Public Health to say Brad had the Nigerian Strain, and how she contacted Brad’s friends that were in close contact with him to be vaccinated.   If it wasn’t for me, she would not have had that information, nor would those kids have been vaccinated.  I can only assume they received the 4-strain (MCV4) meningitis vaccine.  I only wish that I had my “Super Mom” suit on to have saved my own son.  If only I had known.

I went one step further and called the high school that shared the Sagebrush Theatre with TRU, to inform them that my son who almost lived at that theatre had just died of the Y strain meningitis, so that they could issue an advisory warning to students and parents.  They had not been informed and I can only assume missed the article in the Kamloops newspaper.

Brian left to go back to work in Kitimat on January 6th, 2012 and I stayed with my mother in Victoria.   I just couldn’t go back without the support of my family here in Victoria, so took a six month leave of absence from my work.   As a result of Brad’s death and of hearing of other families affected by meningitis, my mission and objective was to join forces with the other parents to bring about awareness of the 5 strains of meningitis, to educate students and parents on all aspects of meningitis, and to lobby the Provincial Government to bring in the 4 strain vaccine (MCV4) into our public immunization program to protect our children from this deadly disease.   I do not want another parent or student to go through what we have.   Brad, our beautiful caring son, would have wished the very same.  Please share the word.  His death could have been prevented by the MCV4 vaccine.  If only we had known.

A Legacy Endowment Fund has been established by Brad’s Kamloops Theatre friends and TRU Faculty of Arts in his memory.   His legacy and accomplishments will never be forgotten; they will live on through the recipients of the scholarship.  Donations can be made to: Thompson Rivers University Foundation with a notation on memo line to Bradley Munro, and send to Thompson Rivers University Foundation / Advancement Office, 900 McGill Road, Kamloops, B.C., V2C 9Z9.

We still can’t believe our son is gone, and we are still waiting for the phone to ring with a voice on the other end saying “HEY” especially on our birthdays, March 22nd and March 24th.  Brad never forgot!

We miss you terribly, Brad.  Love you!

Mom, Dad and Kyle


InMemoriam.ca  |  bclocalnews.ca  |  bclocalnews.ca  |  Kamloops news  |  Oncampus.mcleans.ca

Link to Photos of Brad’s Convocation Ceremony in June

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