Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tribute: Tony's Final Farewell

Thank you for joining us to celebrate
the life of, the one and only,
Sunday May 11 at 3PM
at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
(Douglas & Broughton)

Thank you to all who patiently waited to give your
love, hugs and warm stories at our tea reception.

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that you,
instead, consider a donation in Tony's memory through the
charity, MAGICANA to the Tony Eng Tribute Fund.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Final Curtain


Please forgive our long delay, but after a long and difficult battle, complications have made the unthinkable, a reality. I'm completely heartbroken to share that our dear Tony was taken from us on Sunday afternoon at 4.26 PM.

We are completely devastated by the loss.

We still cannot believe that after the incredible battle he fought, our invincible superman was force to concede on May 4, 2008 - just 25 days short of his 62nd birthday. We take solace in knowing, that he at least passed peacefully, with his beloved partner, Ann, by his side.

It has been the most horrible two-weeks watching Dad fight so damn hard. And I know, he tried. He tried harder than any guy could, but they just kept changing the rules on him. As he conquered one thing, another problem surfaced...then another...and then another. He was fighting blood infections, bowel infections, and all their complications -- not to mention that all the while, his leukemia and Merkel Cell cancers were spreading viciously through his poor, battered body.

You know there is no other guy who would fight harder for his wife and his family - but even heros have their limits. Dad always went above and beyond and, I know, he gave this one more than his usual 110% -- but still, it wasn't enough.

How much can a man be asked to give? Well, typical Tony gave it all for us...and for that we will never forget his amazing strength, courage, generosity and love.

You been with us all along the way - the ups the downs, the highs the lows - and we can't thank you enough for your love and support. It is thanks to your words of encouragement that we have been able to cope with these very difficult times. We are especially grateful to all of your for thinking not only of Dad but of us. From emails, texts and calls, you have shared so much sage advice and words of wisdom. You have all been so concerned for our well-being -- we feel so fortunate to have such a supportive group of family and friends looking out for us.

Many of you have expressed your condolences and I just want to say how much it means to our entire family; your generous words and abundant outpouring of love for Tony has brought great comfort to us all. We will post information on his memorial very soon, here on the blog. Please help us share this information for those who do not blog or email.

In the meanwhile, the family has agreed to keep the legacy and spirit of Tony alive by asking, in lieu of flowers, you consider a donation in Tony's memory to either Magicana (www.magicana.com); or, to a yet-to-be-determined fund to benefit a racquetball-related
program or tournament in Tony's name. Because Tony's deep passion for both magic and racquetball we feel these are fitting tributes to honour his memory.

As most of you know, I'm the Executive Director of Magicana which is a charity dedicated to sharing magic as a performance art. Our site (www.magicana.com) allows you to make online donations and receive a charitable tax receipt. Funds collected in Dad's memory will be directed to a youth program to teach underprivileged children the art of magic. Though we currently do not have the details for the racquetball fund, we will post the details on this blog, and eventually, onto his website.

On behalf of my family, I sign-off with a heavy heart and with our deepest thanks,

for Ann, Sandra and Suley

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Don't forget to laugh...

The last two days have been like a bad roller coaster ride.

Dad has shown amazing strength and you all know how much of an athlete he is, but even this superman has been put through the ringer. His blood is still infected which means it's giving him difficulties elsewhere such as increased tiredness. It also means that his blood is not working properly so several measures must be put in place - like giving him blood components like platelets and albumin - to give Dad some comfort and to give his body a chance to absorb the antibiotic and hopefully fight off infection. He is fighting more and more small battles as his immune system is so stressed and we are seeing some issues such as fluid retention.

He did have some fluid from his lungs drained over the past two days and that has seemed to improve his breathing. He was zonked out big time on Wednesday as a result.

As dire and dark as the picture is drawn we were graced with a window of light last evening: Since Dad was so tired from the minor procedure for the draining, he did rest well for most of the day. He woke up while Julie had the Dad-Watch and while Sandra and Grandma took Suley, Aunty Joan, and Mum out for some food. He was rested, and as a result was feeling quite good. We got him through some of his liquid diet and then he got quite chatty. The infection, and perhaps some of the morphine is now affecting his cognizance and his mind is working on another level now. He’s not always quite with it, but believe me, he sure knows all his dirty jokes still! We read a few more emails and he laughed and rolled his eyes at all the fun comments, goofy jokes and happy memories.

Sandra, Suley, and mum got back while he was in the middle of this happy period. He was singing a little of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” and was also reciting a bit of one of the magical effects called “Stan, Kate & Edith”. He had us in stitches.

It was something we’ll all cherish. It was good to catch that magical moment of Tony’s infectious sparkle.

The evening ended, however, with Dad experiencing a really bad tummy ache. He’s also contracted a bowel infection, which causes moments of terrible discomfort now and then. Mum comforted him until he settled down – all the while he kept insisting that “those damn kids” were setting off stink bombs again. You can’t help but giggle.

So yes, it’s still awful to see Dad struggle with all these problems and yet he reminded us all that the best medicine, indeed, is to laugh a little. When thinking of Tony, don’t forget to take a healthy dose yourselves!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Week Two begins...

Sunday was a sleepy day despite the new unit of blood. He had a fairly restless night and his blood pressure was a little bit high. He has started to express more pain now and his dosage of morphine has increased. That said, the hazy moments have also increased.

Dad sleeps quite a bit through out the day and then when he wakes, he is sometimes still half sleeping and half sleep talking. For the most part, he's doing shows in his dreams! He was snapping away and laughing at a joke during my watch this afternoon. He must have been singing at one point, too. Then, I caught him taking one of his IV cords and was getting it in position to do the Cut & Restore Rope today! I also caught hell when I put his oxygen prongs on...he said, "I don't know why you put me through all this... I can't hear a damn thing! Hello? Hello?" The over-the-ears sensation of the of the cord, clearly made him think of the headphones we got him for his Skype phone!

Today, Monday, we waited for him to get his CT done but it didn't happen until 4PM so we won't know much more until later in the week. Dad was quite tired today and spent little time chatting. Sandra and Ann read a lot of your emails today and that brought a cheer. We've printed some of the pictures and notes you've sent to show him. Hopefully we'll know more tomorrow!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Weekend at the Hospital with the Engs

It was no picnic, I can assure you.

This weekend has ended not too bad. But I tell you Friday really freaked us all out. Dad got dangerously close to a place we don't talk about. To make matters even more frustrating, poor Sandra was en route stuck in Phoenix. Try delivering distressing news to a hysterical sister in an airport waiting lounge. It was not good.

So despite our very scary morning, Dad pulled through and we saw Sandra arrive safe and sound (despite cancellation and delays, thank you nice lady at the ticket desk!). Friday ended up exhausting everyone badly! But at least we left him settled and sleeping deeply.

Saturday was a very good day. Rough start to the morning but after that he seemed to be taking to the antibiotics. His mother (who is terribly worried) came by to visit. How fortunate that she waited for Saturday as Dad looked and was much better than the day before. Dad even let me dress him to take him outside for a sit in the sun! A very good day.

Sunday was not bad...lots of rest but he seemed less settled than he was on Saturday. We are anxious to see what his test results are...!

You have all been so very very kind to write wonderful words of encouragement and support to all of us. We are very fortunate to be surrounded by so many good and loving people. We read your emails to dad and remind him of how many people love and care for him...and you know how he hates (and never) disappoints!


Julie, Sandra and Ann

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tony in hospital

Big scare when Ann brought Tony to hospital on Sunday April 20th. Sandra and Julie were flying back to New York and Toronto but with heavy hearts. Tony was admitted in the morning at the recommendation of the oncologist on call at the Cancer Clinic. Tests showed his blood sugar seriously spiked (normal is around 4 to 8 and Tony was at 23.7).

There were also serious concerns with his blood in general. Turns out there is a bad infection in the blood and therefore his body is suffering as a consequence. After a million tests they finally narrowed his infection to a specific kind and he is now on a special antibiotic for the past five days.

Tony had a very rough Wednesday April 23rd - so bad that Tony asked for us (the girls) to come home. We freaked out and flew home straight away. Julie arrived on Thursday from Toronto and Sandra arrived on Friday from NYC.

Since Wednesday April 23 things have been like a bad roller coaster ride: he's had really great and fabulous moments like laughing and making jokes with the health care staff to scaring us to death with how close he is pushing the line.

I've come to understand a few things about Dad's illness and I'll sum it up here: It's complicated. He's battling two cancers (Merkel Cell Carcinoma -MCC- and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia-CLL) , each attacking different parts of his immune system. Every time the doctors treat one thing, it makes him vulnerable to the other cancer or infection. The scars of his fight are extremely disturbing and he is quite tired and I daresay, exhausted.

Now, that being all said, something in my gut tells me he's still got some fight left in him. The war going on in his body is really straining and taxing his mind. I think that is the hardest part for me to watch. He really wants to give in to the battle sometimes. However, his body seems to be responding positively to various treatments, bit by bit. Even though they are small gains, I reckon that's a lot in this game. And doubly so for dad. And though he may seem like he's really down for the count on this one, that hand of his keeps rising up. It's unbelievable how he just keeps going -- but that is the essence of our Tony, isn't it?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April's brings change

Hi Readers,
Julie here. I've commandeered Dad's blog to fill you in on the latest.

It's a big complicated if you have not heard so I'll try and make up lost time:

First, Sandra, Suley and I flew in from the East to surprise Mum for her 60th Birthday. After much preparation we arrived on April 12. This was the first time we were visually aware of the obvious decline in Dad's health.

We thought we got the problem licked by April 15th but then we saw a big down slide by the weekend. Sandra and I flew out early Sunday morning April 20th and Mum brought Dad to emergency.

Obituary: Tony Eng Lived a Magical Life

Former owner of Trick & Joke Shop succumbs to leukemia and skin cancer

Jeff Bell, Times Colonist

Published: Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A meeting of the Victoria Magic Circle last night turned into a memorial for one of its most accomplished members, Tony Eng, who died Sunday at the age of 61.

The hope when the meeting was planned was that Eng would present his namesake trophy to the winner of a competition for the best close-up magic trick. Instead, fellow magicians like Shayne King took time to share thoughts of a man they respected and admired.

"He taught me a lot, he gave a lot of magicians their start," said King, who managed Tony's Trick & Joke Shop for Eng. He has continued at the store since it became Murray's Trick & Joke Shop two years ago under Murray Hatfield.

Hatfield said running the store has shown him just how far-reaching Eng's influence has been. Eng's legendary demonstrations of his sleight-of-hand at the store counter were a long-time attraction, Hatfield said.

"I can't tell you how many times since we took over the shop that I've had people coming in and saying thinks like 'We're here from Bakersfield, Calif. and we were here five years ago, and it was just the high point of our trip'".

It was all because of Tony and the way he made people feel.

"Tony was a master and definitely one-of-a-kind, and he will be greatly missed by both the magic community at large and by a lot of non-magicians who just happened to come in and meet him through the shop."

Hatfield said that many people he speaks to are finding the news of Eng's death hard to believe.

"This has been such a blow. For the last three days, I've been hearing nothing but people just being in shock. Tony was such an awesome guy -- not only was he an exceptional performer and a great businessman, he just was a really nice man."

The response to his death means a great deal to the family, said Sandra Eng, one of his two daughters.

"The word is starting to ripple out there now and it touches my heart every time I hear how significantly Dad made an impact on people."

She said her father, born in Victoria in 1946, was diagnosed last October with both a form of leukemia and a rare type of skin cancer.

His fascination with magic went back to his early childhood, she said.

"He got his first magic kit when he was eight and did his first paid gig at the age of 12."

His ability as a musician had him performing at innumerable charity events over the years. He also became a Sunday night fixture at the Japanese Village restaurant, where he entertained diners for two decades.

Her father had many interests outside of magic, as well, his daughter said, and entrepreneurial skills that saw him run a successful wholesale business and establish the Premier School of Bartending.

"He loved to play racquetball. He was a fierce competitor and his Y buddies are going to sorely miss him. He also went fly-fishing, he did woodworking and he went RVing. Mom and Dad started travelling in the last few years quite a bit down south to Arizona."

A tribute is set for 3 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church.