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'She wanted to help people:' Calgary breast cancer research advocate, 39, dies after disease metastasized

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A young mother who openly shared her experience with terminal breast cancer on social media and called for government changes in research and screening has died.

Elizabeth Wilson, or Libby, as she was known, first spoke with CTV News in February 2020, after starting a petition calling for self-breast exams to be part of Alberta's education curriculum.

She was 35 then and had just received treatment for breast cancer.

She hadn't known the diagnosis was possible at that age.

Over the course of treatments throughout the next four years, Libby amassed a large following on social media, where she explained her struggles and pains and fundraised for numerous cancer research organizations.

She died in hospital on Aug. 31 at age 39, leaving behind her husband and four-year-old daughter Violet.

"She was unbelievably kind. She wanted to help people. She went out of her way," said Jerit Wilson, Libby's husband.

"She wanted to show the real side of the disease and how it affects people and people flocked to that. (They) realized it's OK to talk about the struggles that you have with this."

"I remember we'd go to these procedures, and she'd go, 'I need a video of this.' I don't think the doctors or nurses understood why she wanted that but that's because she wanted to show the reality of what living with the disease was," said Kimberly Porter, Libby's sister.

Libby's family says in lieu of flowers, she wished for donations to be made in her honour to various causes, such as treatments and support for metastatic breast cancer.

"I think she would just want the future to be better for the people that come after her and have to face that disease. I think she would want there to be treatments. I know she spent a lot of her life fundraising," Porter said.

"She was unbelievably kind. She wanted to help people. She went out of her way." (Supplied)

Both Porter and Wilson say they are overwhelmed by the outpouring of comments and messages from Libby's thousands of followers.

They hope her legacy and advocacy will live on.

Libby also loved photography and volunteered at the Drop-In Centre, helping clients with resumes and headshots.

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