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MONTREAL, FEBRUARY 10, 2015 In 1977, 19-year-old Bernard Gotlieb was living a happy middle class existence in his native Côte St. Luc, which included a passion for the word game Scrabble. However, during a plane trip home from a winter vacation in Florida, he experienced some blockage in his ears, and went to see a doctor who was starting his new G.P. practice.

Because the doctor was seeing Gotlieb for the first time, he was subjected to a battery of medical procedures, including a blood test. When the blood test results looked slightly irregular, the doctor requested another one. The end result was a rather startling one: he was diagnosed with leukemia.

Back in the late 70s, leukemia was practically a death sentence, and any treatments that were available were debilitating, painful and had no guarantee of success.However, such a dire diagnosis did not deter Gottlieb, as he decided to embark upon a six-week trip to Israel, pursued a degree in tourism management and established his own Scrabble Club (which is still in operation). In June of 1979, Gotlieb decided to take a major step in his battle against leukemia: a bone marrow transplant (which was still in the experimental stages) that was only available at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. And on top of that, his sister Gloria’s marrow was a compatible match, and was more than happy to take that risky measure of donating it towards increasing the chances of her brother’s survival against that dreaded disease. As a result, he became one of the first leukemia patients to undergo – and survive -- a bone marrow transplant in Canada, a treatment that is so common these days.

The story of Bernard Gotlieb’s up and down road to successfully battling leukemia is told in honest, personal detail in his privately-published memoir “Hey What Happened To You?” He chronicles his struggles with a lot of with a lot of humanity and humour, and the message the reader gets is that through the more than 30 years since his diagnosis and subsequent bone marrow transplant, Gotlieb has never given up on the idea of beating this disease, and restoring himself to his normal way of life and pursuing the passions that have kept him going through such difficult times.

Difficulties Gotlieb has endured include   infections, a series of extended hospital stays, injuries, accidents, operations, medical procedures, financial strains, a brain tumour, and a worsening skin condition that led to the amputation of both his legs. Yet somehow, through the love and support of friends and family (not to mention his continuing passion for Scrabble and his Scrabble club), Gotlieb has managed to maintain a normal life, in which he runs a games class at Royal Vale Elementary School in NDG, Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School in Rosemount and St. Dorothy Elementary School in St. Michel. He also tutors students in math, French, English and Spanish at his home.

“Hey What Happened To You?” is a memoir of an individual who valiantly fought back against leukemia, no matter what setbacks and obstacles were thrown at him, and serves as a true inspiration for anyone who has to face their own battles for their lives. If such an individual can define “courageous” and “survivor”, Bernard Gotlieb certainly is that individual.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Bernard Gotlieb’s book, it is available at,  Bonder`s Book Store (52 Westminster) in Montreal West or via the author at He will speak to students at Royal Vale School (5851 Somerled) on Wednesday, February 18 (1:40 p.m.) in the Auditorium.


Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213