I thought I would share this with you all because Patricia is my cousins sister and anyone who has dealt with chronic pain issues could most certainly relate to her tragic story even though it is not specific to sci ! I pray she is finally at peace ! ..... This is the official press release .

Patricia Anne Van Tighem (Janz)

August 22, 1958 - December 14, 2005



Last Wednesday, Canada lost a celebrated author and advocate for those who struggle with chronic pain, facial disfigurement, post-traumatic stress and the challenges of raising children with special needs. Patricia Anne Van Tighem (Janz), mother, author, advocate and friend, died on December 14, 2005, from the lasting effects of a bear attack 22 years earlier in southern Alberta.

Few can imagine the loneliness and hopelessness of those who cannot escape the chronic pain, repeated surgeries and facial disfigurement resulting from traumatic injuries. To transcend isolation and to connect with, and transform, the lives of countless others, demands rare courage and strength.

Patricia Van Tighem’s legacy endures in her children, countless friends, and the remarkable difference her writing and advocacy have made in the lives of untold numbers of people.

Known internationally as the author of the best-selling book "The Bear’s Embrace", Patricia was born August 22, 1958 in Calgary Alberta, one of ten children in the family of John and Eileen Van Tighem. John ("Jack"), who predeceased Patricia in 1989, was the highly regarded Superintendent of the Calgary Catholic School System for 13 years; Eileen is a much-loved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who supported Patricia in countless ways until the end. Patricia is also pre-deceased by an older sister, Mary.

Patricia graduated from Calgary’s St. Mary’s High School and later completed the nursing program at Mount Royal College. In 1989, she received her Bachelor of Science (Nursing) with Distinction from the University of Victoria. Patricia served proudly as a nurse at Calgary’s Foothills Hospital.

In 1980 Patricia married Trevor Janz. Three years later, on September 18, 1983, they were attacked by a bear in Waterton Lakes National Park, an incident that left Patricia with lasting injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She moved with her family to Nelson B.C. in 1993.

Despite requiring multiple surgeries, enduring chronic pain and suffering episodic mental illness, Patricia was a quietly effective volunteer and devoted mother. She established a Calgary branch of ‘About Face’, which supports people with facial disfigurement. After the birth of her daughter Claire, Patricia made significant contributions to ‘Ups and Downs’, a resource for families of children with Down’s Syndrome. She recently initiated an information night and support group for Nelson parents addressing the developmental challenges of special needs children. Beyond these endeavours, Patricia gave inspirational public addresses and wrote with brave candour, attracting national and international media attention.

Patricia’s response to what life presented moved professionals. Theologian Michael Duggan recently said that "Patricia was put among us to teach us." She used her life experiences to validate the struggles of others and to help build bonds among people isolated by pain, grief or struggle. In the final months of her life, neurologist Dr. Neil Hagen told her: "You are an expert in suffering. That’s what you are." She tried continually to turn her suffering into a gift for others, while fighting through it for the love of her four children.

Patricia’s book ‘The Bear’s Embrace’ began as a therapeutic attempt to deal with the lasting pain, disfigurement and trauma that resulted from her 1983 bear attack. To her humble surprise, the book became a Canadian best-seller and was subsequently released in American and European editions.

Patricia will be remembered with enduring affection, admiration and respect for her remarkable kindness, insight and strength of spirit in the face of unending tribulation. Patricia remains a great blessing in the lives of those she touched, including her many, many friends.

Her family thanks the legions of compassionate people who cared for and about Patricia for over two decades.

In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that donations be made in Patricia’s memory to a trust fund for her children, c/o ‘The Janz-Van Tighem Trust Fund’, Investors Group, 100-37 Richard Way S.W. Calgary T3E 7M8.

Funeral arrangements to be announced



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