Gone too soon

Last week was a devastating week. Cancer unleashed its destructive and erratic force and took the lives of two young girls in the same day. Two families are mourning the loss of their little girls that were too young, too innocent and with far too much life left to live. Cancer robbed 18-year-old Gillian O’Blenes-Kaufman of her chance to experience the world and fulfill her dreams. And it robbed nine-year-old Diamond Marshall of her chance to grow up. Our hearts break at the injustice.

small-gillian-prismGillian was a gifted artist and dancer, who had an enthusiasm for living that showed in every aspect of her life. She lived more in her short 18 years than most people live in 90. In May, 2013, Gillian was diagnosed with a bone cancer that had already spread to her lungs. The resulting prognosis was not good. While some people would have given-up, Gillian refused to. Her resolve to accomplish her dreams only grew and resulted in living a life that inspired many. Gillian took the world by storm and was able to check off many items on her bucket-list, such as: travelling to Greece, graduating high school with honours, designing a helmet for Brad Spence, an Olympic skier, marrying her high-school sweetheart, going on a mission trip to Mexico and completing a semester at ACAD with straight A’s. Gillian’s life was full and bright and she will be missed by many.

Gillian O’Blenes-Kaufman

Diamond’s name perfectly captured her essence. Her light shinned so brightly, she captured the hearts of the world, including a princess. When Diamond was diagnosed with adrenal cancer at the age of five, she became fascinated with Prince William and Kate, while watching their wedding from her hospital bed. She told The Children’s Wish Foundation that her dream was to one day meet a princess. On July 7, 2011, the foundation helped make that dream come true and the world fell in love with the sweet little girl who gave Kate such a warm embrace. What Diamond may not have realised, was the lasting affect she had on all of us, including the Royal couple. Diamond was also the inspiration behind the Hockey Marathon for Kids and she will continue to be the reason many will lace up their skates. Diamond’s memory will continue to shine brightly and she will forever be missed.

Diamond Marshall

To Gillian and Diamond’s family and friends, we grieve alongside you. We are angry that these two beautiful young ladies lives were cut short and that cancer was the cause. To the doctors, nurses and caregivers that helped Gillian, Diamond and their families, our thoughts are with you. We know that every patient has a special place in your hearts and that losing two bright souls in one day is devastating.

There is no place in this world for childhood cancer. It’s unacceptable, plain and simple. In 2015, 160 children will be diagnosed with cancer right here in Alberta. That number is staggering and it should shock and anger you. The lives of these children matter and the lives of Gillian and Diamond matter.


Christine McIver, M.S.M., CFRE
Chief Executive Officer
Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta



Gillian’s art gallery