Patient Story

Brian Haas' Story

Business owner’s legacy lives on

For Brian Haas, three things were important in life: faith, relationships and his family’s electrical contracting business. He relied on all three as he battled cancer and that’s why a fund in his memory helps ensure other people have access to the specialists they need close to home and work.

“Being able to receive treatment in Rochester gave my brother a huge boost in his quality of life,” said Linda Ayer, who is now the owner and C.E.O. of Connors-Haas, a company her father started in 1966.

“I know Brian would want other people in this area to be able to continue with their lives, their work and their families.”

Brian Haas photo

The diagnosis

For weeks, Brian hadn’t been feeling like himself. He seemed run down, tired. He thought a visit to Florida, where his parents were spending the winter, would help him recharge. But resting didn’t help.

He returned to work, and he thought he could push through. But by spring, when his parents returned from Florida, he couldn’t carry their suitcases at the airport.

It was time to see a doctor, his family insisted. And on the way to a business meeting, he received a call from his doctor’s office instructing him to go directly to the emergency department.

Tests showed he had a blood disorder called multiple myeloma, which is cancer of the plasma cells.

The fight

“Brian never married or had kids,” said Linda. “We immediately had him come to Boston to stay with us,” and the family began researching and scheduling appointments for specialists.

When it became clear that he would eventually need a stem cell transplant, he didn’t wait. He scheduled it. And when the time was right, he returned home to Rochester and Lipson Cancer Institute.

“We got connected with Dr. Saad Jamshed, and he was so compassionate and wonderful. My brother loved him and his staff. He also worked seamlessly with Brian’s doctors in Boston. There was no ego. They just worked together to figure out the best treatment so Brian could live in Rochester and run his company.”

He tried every treatment, and even toward the end, he had hope.

“He was not a quitter. He never gave up.”

The legacy

When he was at his sickest, he stayed again at Linda’s home in Boston. Friends and relatives would drive seven hours to see him, but the family knew he needed to be back in Rochester to say his good-byes.

“If you knew him, you loved him,” Linda said. “He had so many friends.”

One of those friends had access to a construction company’s private jet, and the company offered to bring him home.

“We weren’t sure he would make it through the flight, but he did. Friends visited with him around the clock for 10 days.”

When he passed, those friends and family members wanted to donate toward medical research and toward supporting other people fighting multiple myeloma.

“We donated to places like the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, but we eventually decided to focus on directing our donations to Rochester and the Lipson Cancer Institute because that’s where Brian had his business, his family and his friends. And this is a way to support the people who helped our brother.”

To help patients with multiple myeloma have access to the latest life-saving treatments and technology, give today.