Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet Joanne. I first heard about her story through our friend shortly after my lupus diagnosis, when my entire life was in turmoil and unknown. I knew that my diagnosis was (likely) never to be a death sentence – life altering, yes, but I would be able to count myself among the living.
Joanne received a different diagnosis: terminal brain cancer.
She began running years prior. With an initial intention to simply lose weight, she completed 5Ks and progressed to 10Ks. Not surprisingly – a common story amongst us outdoor enthusiasts! – she fell in love with the sport and began competing in half and full marathons. Triathlons being the next progression, she continued to train and completed first a half and then a full IRONMAN.
It was after the full IRONMAN her diagnosis came in. As she became sick, running allowed her to maintain her self esteem and confidence. Running allowed her to get outside and it took her on an amazing journey, one that led her to healthier places – mentally, emotionally, and physically.
A friend puts her awe for Joanne in these terms:
“How she lived her life post diagnosis was for me, the most inspiring and most courageous I’ve ever had the blessing to bear witness to. I loved Joanne more for the spirit and tenacity and selfless dedication to give back, to raise awareness and funds, to inspire others and to leave a legacy that touches others lives. She was one of the truest heroes, a lover of life with a zest to take it on. She is missed by so many but she will never be forgotten. Be inspired.”
Joanne Schiewe passed away on Monday, August 29, 2016, a week and a half after her 36th birthday. Diagnosed in February, 2015 with glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer, Jo made the most of every day, surrounded by the love and incredible pride of her family and friends.
The enduring connections Joanne forged throughout her journey were incredibly meaningful and especially valuable to her. Whether as a friend, co-worker, training partner, coach or just that girl I met’, Joanne inspired countless people with her energy, passion and wacky sense of humour. After her diagnosis, the response and support from Joanne’s vast network of friends was outstanding. Hundreds upon hundreds of people, from Manitoba and beyond, got behind Jo and supported her efforts to raise awareness and funds for Brain Cancer research and treatment. To date, Joanne has raised over $80,000… and her legacy is one we will all work to continue.