There are no words to describe the profound sadness in the loss of a daughter who was just beginning her journey as an adult. Her dreams for the future, her teaching skills and artistic talents cut short. “Life changes in the instant” (Joan Didion) and what you don’t expect, yet fear the most, happens.
Life is about relationships and love expressed in the depth of loss. It is this connection with Shan that is sadly missed by family, friends, coworkers, children and others whose lives she touched.
Shan’s friends have maintained her spirit in a number of ways. They have participated in established cancer awareness events in an effort to make a difference for other young women following in her footsteps. In her memory, they helped initiate the annual Knock Cancer Out of the Park ball tournament in New Liskeard, ON. They have planted trees, submitted her name to an online memorial quilt, named a star in Shan’s memory and worked on Team Shan projects and awareness campaigns.
Friends also created a special tribute at the beach in Haileybury, ON. They built a memorial garden overlooking Lake Timiskaming with the inscription “an inspiration to young swimmers, friends and coworkers.” It was there that Shan spent the summers of her childhood swimming, sailing and working as a lifeguard and swimming instructor.
Old friends have contributed to memorial plaques at the aquatic centres and skating clubs where Shan worked and played. An annual memorial art award has been established at Temiskaming District Secondary School in New Liskeard, ON.
Trees and gardens have been planted, art work and quilt created and memories renewed by family, friends and coworkers. Memorial funds have been established in Shan’s name to help young children learn to swim (Southside Aquatics Centre, Woodstock, ON) and learn to skate (Haileybury Skating Club, Haileybury, ON). The Southside Aquatics Centre also designed new lifeguard uniforms using Shan’s sunflowers.
Skating clubs where Shan coached have established awards in her memory including the Junior Spirit award (Thamesford Skating Club) and Volunteer award (Haileybury Skating Club). The Zorra Skating Club (Embro, ON) held a special skating carnival honouring Shan in 2006. It was entitled Walking on Sunshine and featured Shanna’s Garden.
Other young people and new friends I have encountered on my journey have not only preserved Shan’s memory, but have enriched my life. Team 888 made a special tribute to Shanna during their quest for the Olympics. The University of Western Ontario Student’s Council dedicated their 2007 Relay for Life event to Shan. Marshall Dane wrote a musical tribute. Esther and Karen have included Shan in their Collecting Loss art project.
One of Shan’s self portraits was included in the Photosensitive Cancer Connections black and white photo exhibition that toured major cities in Canada between 2008 and 2010.
The Team Shan Community Project is a legacy to Shan’s gift to brighten the day, be positive, make a difference and to care. The coordinating committee, professionals, young adults and supporters involved in the project have, in Shan’s memory, worked to raise awareness of breast cancer in young women.
The Team Shan Breast Cancer Awareness for Young Women (Team Shan) charity is dedicated to raising awareness that breast cancer is not just a disease of older women. Team Shan board members, advisory group professionals and broader community partners have and continue to assist Team Shan efforts. In Shan’s memory, awareness and education activities continue to inform young women about their breast cancer risk.
Shan’s worth has been measured by many and memorial tributes continue…thank you!
Lorna (Shan’s Mom)