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'She was a fighter': N.S. author remembered for strength in the face of ALS

'She was a fighter': N.S. author remembered for strength in the face of ALS

Angela Parker-Brown didn't want her legacy to just be of a Nova Scotian woman with ALS, and it isn't.

It is of resilience, of dignity and compassion, say friends, family and even people who never met her.

The 50-year-old author from Truro, N.S., died peacefully Friday, her sister Bev Maxwell said. Her family was by her side.

"She was a trooper right up until the very end," Maxwell said. "She was strong … surrounded with love, just what she wanted. She didn't want to be alone, and she was never alone. We were all there.

"She was a fighter. She never gave up, even to her very last [breath]."

Parker-Brown used eye-gaze technology to write her first book, Writing With My Eyes: Staying Alive While Dying, after she was diagnosed with ALS in 2018. The terminal illness causes loss of muscle control throughout the body.

In her book, she discussed embracing challenges and encouraged others to live life to the fullest. She showed gratitude for every aspect of her life, from watching a movie to giggling with her twin daughters.

Maxwell said her family has been receiving messages, emails and notes from people saying how Parker-Brown touched their lives.

"Post after post, message after message, like, people that I have no idea who they are," said Maxwell, who cared for her.

"She just showed us all how to live in this world with such grace and dignity and compassion for life and for each other, and she did that. She did that for everybody."

Recognition

After her book was published, Parker-Brown was presented with a Platinum Jubilee lapel pin for showing strength and grace through her ALS diagnosis.

Pottersfield Press, her publisher, is highlighting her book for African Heritage Month this year.

Nova Scotia band Brigid featured Parker-Brown and her family in their music video Someone Like Her, a song about meeting adversity with strength.

"I feel like she was very much the poster girl for that idea," said singer Beth Terry. Terry has taught music to Parker-Brown's daughters for years and knew her before her ALS diagnosis.

Brigid
Brigid

She said Parker-Brown never let ALS be a barrier. She said she found a way to communicate with the world, give her children an extraordinary experience with her and make the most of the limited time she had in the world.

"It's so inspiring," said Terry. "I actually struggle for the right words to explain just how … overwhelmingly courageous that is."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

CBC
CBC

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