Tragically Hip fan Joanne Schiewe dead of same brain cancer Gord Downie has
Superfan dies just weeks after watching what could be final Winnipeg show for rock band frontman
Joanne Schiewe held on long enough to take in what could be Gord Downie's final concert in Winnipeg, but on Monday, just weeks after the Tragically Hip show, she lost her battle with brain cancer.
"Certainly it was a hell of a fight before she went," her partner Jared Spier said. "She put up a fight that none of us could match."
Schiewe, who recently celebrated her 36th birthday, lived just past the six to 18 months she was told she would likely survive.
Schiewe was a big Tragically Hip fan who had glioblastoma, the same form of terminal brain cancer that Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie has.
Schiewe and her partner Jared Spier were excited to get tickets to the recent Hip show at the MTS Centre. After their initial attempt to buy tickets online failed, Hip fans banded together and donated tickets to the pair.
But in the days before the concert, Schiewe's condition worsened, leaving them worried she might not survive long enough to catch Downie on stage one last time.
In the end, they made it to the show and Schiewe had a great time, Spier said.
"It was a bit overwhelming at times just because of what the tumour had done … but it was wonderful and I have really, really fond memories of the whole night," Spier said.
"Just walking out of the concert with her, the number of people who just showed up next to her and recognized her and said, 'Oh my God, you made it to the concert. That's so wonderful.' That was also overwhelming for her, but when we had a chance to reflect on it afterwards, she was really touched by that."
While she lived for a week and a half after the final show of the Hip tour, the Kingston concert that was viewed by more than 11 million people online and on television, Spier said that day was Schiewe's "last really good day where she was bright-eyed."
"She really enjoyed the concert, and we spent it at her parents' house, watched it there with her folks. It was emotional, but that's going to stand out as the last great day of Jo," Spier said.
"Even though we had more than a week after that, it was a really hard week."
Schiewe was an avid runner and helped raise thousands of dollars for brain cancer research. She was inducted into the Manitoba Runners' Association Hall of Fame for contributions she made to the community.
Spier said he admired how public Schiewe was with her illness through her advocacy and fundraising.
"It's well out of comfort range as well, but I definitely have pushed on to respect that and carry on as her voice and tell the last month of her story, because it was so important to her," Spier said.
Rather than mourn her passing, the family is celebrating the life Schiewe led, he said.
"It's so important that we figure out more to do and give something more to people who are affected by this. There is a lot of room for improvement, and we have the right minds and people and passion to improve it.… Hopefully her story will help that."
A group of runners plans to meet at the duck pond in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg at 5:30 p.m. CT Tuesday to jog five kilometres to honour Schiewe, Spier added.
With files from Meaghan Ketcheson