Every day is a gift: Remembering Narda Hunt

“You can’t know Narda and Not love her” – like much of the community, our team at the Foundation was captivated by Narda Hunt and her fight with cancer. Married to a professional filmmaker, Narda’s vibrant life was shared with the world, highlighting her love of South Georgian Bay and her way of finding extraordinary in the ordinary. From her fairytale romance to her fierce love of family, her life exuded a joie de vivre that we sometimes take for granted as we get bogged down with the monotony of the everyday. Together, Brian and Narda documented Narda’s story in the hopes that others could benefit. Narda wanted to make sure that her fight would impact and inspire others.

In 2011 Narda was diagnosed with breast cancer and learned that she carried the BRCA2 gene that she subsequently learned runs in her family. She underwent chemotherapy and thought she had beaten the disease. In the spring of 2017 she fell skiing in April and broke a rib. This is when CGMH’s Diagnostic Imaging Department discovered Nara’s breast cancer had returned and was metastatic.

CGMH Radiologist Dr Michael Carstensen saw something on Narda’s liver in the Xray and advised her to have a CT scan and later a biopsy that showed it was in fact breast cancer. The Hunts knew this was not great news and knew what metastatic breast cancer meant; a terminal diagnosis. However, with Dr Carstensen’s quick diagnosis and care, the Hunt’s felt fortunate that Narda was able to start treatment quickly.

Having lost her own mother at a young age, Narda didn’t want to let her daughters grow up without her. She was determined to do anything possible to extend her time with her two young girls and to raise them. She was fulfilling her dream of being a mom, a job that was so important to her and she never took it for granted. She chose to live everyday with her family with her whole heart and mind.

To fight this horrible disease, the Hunts wanted to send Narda to Germany for treatment for the cancer to enhance the effectiveness of the chemotherapy she had already received in Canada. A private specialist clinic in Germany offered regional treatment that had tremendous effects for people in Narda’s situation. Through a Go Fund Me campaign, friends and family, and strangers all rallied to raise the needed funds. The treatments were very successful and Narda would go on to visit the clinic again, extending her life by another 5 years.

Over the past 5 years, the Hunts have developed a special and important relationship with CGMH. They built lasting relationships with their healthcare teams and also relied heavily on the CT scanner for many scans. Unfortunately, there were also times when the scanner wasn’t able to produce the quality images that some of Narda’s specialists required and therefore meant they had to go elsewhere. Having to travel to Barrie or Toronto always elevated an already stressful and worrisome situation for Brian and Narda. Being at CGMH was a source of comfort and convenience.

“I don’t know if the majority of the population of the area knows how lucky we are to have such an exceptional health care team at CGMH. Knowing the level of care that we did and would receive when we needed to go back into Emergency really helped to ease our anxiety. I have lost track of how many times we ended up in the emergency department. I still think of Collingwood as a small town and the hospital as a “small town” hospital, but I can say that the care we received in many ways surpassed the “Big City” hospitals we visited doing her treatment journey.” – Brian Hunt

In August of 2022, Narda Hunt passed, leaving a community heartbroken, but grateful for having been part of her life. Narda leaves a legacy of unconditional love and mindfulness. She truly understood the importance of living in the moment and paying attention to the things that matter. Life is a gift.

“Staring death in the eye, one good that comes from that is that it really changes your perspective on life. It makes you enjoy the little things, it helps you to see what really matters in life.” – Narda Hunt

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