Piper Gilles is using her story to bring awareness to brain cancer and is encouraging Canadians to be more aware and how Canadians can help with the cause.
Piper Gilles is a name you have heard before. Piper is a Canadian-American ice dancer who is a current Canadian representative internationally. With ice dancing partner Paul Poirier, Piper was the 2021 World bronze medalist, a three-time Four Continents medalist, 2019 Skate Canada International champion, and the 2020 Canadian national champion.
But on May 27th, 2018 Piper lost her mom, Bonnie, to glioblastoma.
Bonnie was a very supportive and involved mom. She was the ultimate skating mom and always left the door open to all of Piper’s skating friends. Over the last 15 years, Bonnie had hosted over 80 different athletes from 15 different countries. In March of 2017 Piper began to see some differences in her mom, uncharacteristic traits. The first instance was during a training trip home where she forgot to pick Piper up from the airport – which is very uncommon for Bonnie.
From this incident on, they noticed more and more small errors like this until things got substantially worse. She would spend hours pacing around the kitchen carefully avoiding the cracks in-between the tiles. and got sick in a car ride during one of their trips on their way to a restaurant
At this point, Piper knew that something was wrong, and she needed to get her mom to see a doctor, but at 25 years old it was a difficult call to make. Within only 15 minutes of tests, the medical staff knew something was wrong with Bonnie. Within 45 minutes they had confirmed that Bonnie had a brain tumour the size of a tennis ball.
The family knew right at that moment of her diagnosis that it was an immediate death sentence. One of Bonnie’s ultimate dreams was to have a child represent Canada in the Winter Games. Bonnie fought, while Piper would go and train and fly home to see her at any chance she got. Bonnie fought all the way to the Olympics and cheered Piper on from their family home.
Battling for 15 months, where she developed two more brain tumours during that time and lost her ability to walk and talk. Bonnie passed away on May 27th, 2018 at the age of 63.
She is now using her story with her mother as a way of spreading knowledge and raising awareness and money for brain cancer research.
Piper began studying wine at George Brown College in Toronto after her mother’s death because wine reminds her of her mom and wine brings people together. She hopes to one day make and sell wine to raise money for cancer research. Piper also plans on hosting a skate for the cure to raise more awareness and money.
Joining the Toronto Brain Tumour Walk, Piper has done multiple interviews as Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s National Spokesperson. Piper was also the 2019 face for Hats For Hope, a movement to raise awareness for brain cancer in Canada.
There are so many ways to get involved in spreading awareness for brain cancer, the Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada has many ways for you to get involved.
Published by HOLR Magazine.