'She was so strong': Susan Glynn, longtime N.L. advocate for cancer patients, dead at 55

·3 min read
Susan Glynn, seen here in 2018, died Tuesday at the age of 55. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, and served as a prominent local advocate. (Ryan Cooke/CBC - image credit)
Susan Glynn, seen here in 2018, died Tuesday at the age of 55. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, and served as a prominent local advocate. (Ryan Cooke/CBC - image credit)
Ryan Cooke/CBC
Ryan Cooke/CBC

Susan Glynn, a longtime St. John's advocate for ovarian cancer patients whose work touched thousands around the world, has died.

Glynn, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2014, spent years working to spread awareness of the disease, which kills 61 per cent of women within five years of diagnosis, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Glynn spent much of her time in the public eye fighting to help those going through cancer treatment, advocating for more hospital parking spots for cancer patients and helping to create the system used to identify early symptoms of ovarian cancer used in Canada and other countries — called the 4 Bs.

Glynn died surrounded by family at the age of 55.

Denise Bradley, a longtime friend of Glynn's, remembers the initial stages of her diagnosis as a time that would help set her on the path of advocacy.

"When all this with her cancer first came out, her attitude was, 'I'm not gonna let this beat me. I'm gonna beat it," Bradley said Thursday. "The day that she spoke to me, she was saying there's no information out there, no place for people to go to for support. How could this be? Something needs to be done."

Ryan Cooke/CBC
Ryan Cooke/CBC

Glynn's determination also carried into other facets of her life. She remained a runner in races around St. John's, completing the Cape to Cabot road race and the 2018 Tely 10 between chemotherapy sessions.

"She was so strong," Bradley said. "Her determination is what made her grow and blossom even more."

Following her diagnosis, Glynn created and became the face of advocacy group Women of Hope NL, aimed at highlighting the need for research and public awareness into ovarian cancer.

The group has more than 1,500 members from around the world, including Tammy Warren of Glenwood, N.L.

"I'd been going through ovarian cancer … and I just happened to see her on the news," said Warren, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in September 2020.

"Up until that point, I thought I was the only one in Newfoundland with ovarian cancer. So when I saw her, I reached out to her through social media.… I finally had somebody I can talk to."

Submitted by Tammy Warren
Submitted by Tammy Warren

Warren said the two formed a very close bond, despite never actually meeting in person. When Glynn was unable to attend public events, Warren would often stand in for her, and she said Glynn opened her eyes to a whole new world of support.

"There's just so much she left impacted on me," she said. "Just her presence, her ability to talk to people about something that is so terrifying.

"I kept saying that I got this cancer for a reason. And I believe that the reason was to help Susan spread the word about ovarian cancer."

The Women of Hope group often refers to themselves as "the Teal Sisters," in honour of the colour used to represent the cancer, Warren said.

As part of Glynn's work, buildings across Canada have been lit up in teal to raise awareness of the cancer, from the town hall in Grand Falls-Windsor to Toronto's CN Tower.

Mollie Jameson
Mollie Jameson

"[The colour represents] survival," she said. "It means I went through a journey, and I'm still going through that journey.

"I'm in a store somewhere and the colour teal is there, it instantly reminds me of ovarian cancer, of the work that Susan has done."

Both women say Glynn would want her legacy to be that they and others continue on the path she started — sharing the stories of ovarian cancer, and colouring the world teal.

"Keep searching, keep supporting, don't stop. Now that she's passed, doesn't mean that things stop," Bradley said. "Her impact and her passing has been felt worldwide. There's a lot of people far and wide that have been affected by her death and will miss her greatly."

Glynn was "an amazing person," said Warren.

"We talked so many times, and I wish I had got to meet her.… She's touched so many people."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting