It seems impossible to try to capture the essence of who someone is, was, through just words. Because there are no words that really do justice to honour a person like Laurie Kingston and how her life touched so many people, people she didn’t even know. It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Laurie, one of CBCN’s board members, who passed away on January 8, 2018.
Laurie was a lot of things to a lot of people, a proud mother, loving partner and treasured friend, but we also knew her as an incredible advocate and voice for people living with metastatic breast cancer. We had the pleasure of getting to know Laurie through one of our advocacy trainings a few years ago and were immediately struck by her knowledge and commitment to really making a difference in the lives of others living with metastatic breast cancer. She quickly became a strong voice in guiding the work that we do.
As someone who had been living with metastatic breast cancer for several years, Laurie had a perspective that was really instrumental in driving change and pushing forward the idea of living with an incurable form of cancer. She used this concept to help guide and develop the first Living Legacy Campaign that shared the stories of women living with metastatic breast cancer and promoted the idea of living with this stage of the disease, and not being defined by it.
Laurie (second from the right) pictured at the Living Legacy Parliamentary Reception
Laurie also knew the importance of educating decision makers about mBC and helping them understand what they need to do to help Canadians living with this disease. She went to Parliament Hill several times to share her story and speak about the need for better and quicker access to new medications and about what needs to be done by governments to help people live well with mBC. She had an incredible way of being relatable and helping people understand why this is so important.
When the opportunity arose to develop a new CBCN website, Laurie played a key role in advising on what needed to be included to best support the metastatic community. She also identified the need for better information about drug access and with her knowledge and guidance MedSearch was developed. She was adamant that more needed to be done to help support patients and their families. She knew first-hand how important it was for people living with mets to know what treatments might work for them once one stops working and to ensure that they would have access to those treatments.
And while she was advising and working and developing all of these ideas and tools, she was also infusing them with herself. As we sat here and reflected on our memories of Laurie and everything that we have worked on together, we were struck by how much of herself she poured into this work. She was so knowledgeable, so clear in how she articulated ideas and information, and this is so evident in everything that she worked on.
As we talked about the various projects that we had created with her, it was comforting to know that so much of her work continues to live on. We’ve come full circle, to the beginning of our time with Laurie, where she talked about her Living Legacy. How she lived, fully, and how that legacy will live on even without her here.
And it does. In her two boys that she was so proud of, in her family who she shared her life with, in her friends who clearly shared her love of knitting, dogs and humour, and in the words, information and resources that she helped create and left behind to help others like her. She created a beautiful legacy during her time on this earth. And while we will miss her, her knowledge, her strength and her legacy will continue to make a difference in the lives of others.