A Canadian mother sharing her battle with metastatic breast cancer on social media has died at the age of 39.
Elizabeth Wilson, better known as Libby Joan on social media, was sharing her journey on Facebook, TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter) since late 2020 with tens of thousands of followers.
Seven months after giving birth to her daughter, Violet, in September 2018, the Calgary mom had been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in April. A year later, a PET scan revealed something on her sacrum in her lower back; a follow-up biopsy showed Wilson had stage four — also called metastatic — breast cancer, meaning the disease spread throughout her body.
In her most recent update on X, posted on Aug. 27, Wilson said that “it’s been hard,” as health care professionals had “basically” been suggesting she stop getting treatment. She shared that she had metastases — cancerous tumours that have spread from the original cancer site — in her liver, lymph nodes, brain and bones. She added that while turning to grab some juice earlier that week, she had broken her femur.
On Friday, her husband shared a post letting her more than 37,000 followers on X know that she had died on Thursday.
“She was peaceful when she went, and her family was with her during her time in hospital,” her, husband, Jerit noted in the post, which has since been seen more than 2.6 million times.
People across the internet shared their sympathy for Wilson’s death, with many adding their love and support.
“Oh, my sweet girl. So sorry to hear of Libby’s passing. She fought like a demon to stay with Violet and her family. Sending love and prayers,” someone penned on TikTok.
“For those who loved and supported Libby, know it meant everything to her. She passed Aug. 31. She’s loved beyond words and will be so very missed,” another person added.
“My deepest sympathies to you all. Libby was a brave, beautiful soul lost too soon,” a GoFundMe user wrote, while donating $50 to the family.
In February 2020, Wilson started a petition in hopes of persuading the Alberta Education Ministry to make breast self-exams a mandatory part of its curriculum. Despite studying biology and teaching for years, she had no idea how to perform a self-examination nor the risk of developing cancer at a young age.
“I had so much education and I taught in K-12 schools and had no idea this could happen to me,” Wilson told Global News that year. “If only I’d known it could happen and be aware and know how to feel for it.
“I’ve gone from thinking I have 40 years left to thinking I would be lucky to get 15 or 20 years more; that would be lucky.”
In December of that year, Wilson created a GoFundMe in hopes of raising money to help support her cancer treatments. Throughout her journey, she updated donors about raising enough money for genetic testing, her results of biopsies and the difficulties Canadians have accessing testing and care. Eventually, her father took over the petition since Wilson was “struggling” with the disease, until it was closed at $11,060 in donations.
Her father, John Porter, created another GoFundMe, titled “Libby’s Cancer Hope Fund,” in December 2022, in an attempt to “bring hope” to his daughter’s cancer treatment.
Porter added to say that the goal of the fundraiser is to pay for treatments the Government of Alberta “refuses to cover,” take additional tests the province doesn’t pay for and to afford clinical trials.
Sitting at more than 1,400 donations, the fundraiser has reached more than $65,000 of its goal.