The Breast Blog: Gabi and The Young and Breastless

On January 3rd, I told you about the passing of Gabi, one of the Breast of Canada calendar models. Yesterday, I shared an editorial I had written about a new national organization called The Young and the Breastless. Today I will join the dots.

Dr. Gabriele Helms, born May 15th, 1966, lead her breast cancer support group in the organization of a " Networking Event for Young Women with Breast Cancer" called The Young and the Breastless. She was also an assistant professor of English at University of British Columbia. And in case math is not your strong suit, Gabi was 38 years old when she died on New Year's eve, three days after giving birth to her first child, Hana Gabriele Helms-Shore.

Over the two day networking event last spring, I watched and listened to Gabi as she confidently and with tremendous grace and vivacious energy moved the proceeding and ground breaking event along. I remember commenting to Gabi how I wished I was her student. Her warmth and enthusiasm for life, as cliché as that sounds, inspired me to no end. Leaders of such quality are in short supply in our world today.

I know that the over 100 women from across Canada attending the conference left with renewed energy, a fresh viewpoint and a sense of relief that they were not facing breast cancer alone. Gabi helped people connect and find their own courage.

The conference wrapped up on May 15th, Gabi's birthday. I sang her well wishes with unrestrained gusto, as did the rest of the delegates, tears streaming down my face. My tears were not sad. These were tears that come when my heart opens and I know that my soul is being touched.

In lieu of flowers, the family would welcome donations made in Gabi's memory to the BC Cancer Agency.

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