Friends stuck with Lee-Anne until the end

A celebration of life for 29-year-old Lee-Anne Peters was held last Tuesday.

A celebration of life for 29-year-old Lee-Anne Peters was held last Tuesday.

Peters and her friends stole the Cowichan Valley’s hearts in the summer of 2012 when the tight-knit group announced Peters’ early onset Huntington’s disease was progressing and with no family in Cowichan, and rather than her moving away for care, her friends vowed to support her as long as they possibly could.

Huntington’s disease is a genetic degenerative condition that chips away at a person’s physical, emotional, and mental being.

“Basically it means that over the years, it takes about 22 to 25 years to slowly kill a person,” Peters said in a 2012 YouTube video describing her condition. “It gets to the point where you basically can’t walk at all and you’re completely hospitalized and eventually if you don’t die of any accidents, which many people do, you die of starvation. That’s how my mother died.”

Peters was just 16 when her mom died of the hereditary condition at the age of 43. Two years later, Peters learned she had the same disease.

A “Summer of Lee-Anne” crowdfunding campaign was set up to raise money for Peters and her caregivers. That summer of 2012 was special. Peters had a summer to remember: bungee jumping naked, skydiving, visiting a tall ship, running through a cornfield, and an epic Tofino trip, to name a few.

Since then, Peters tried to live a full life, scratching as many items off her bucket list as she could.

Her supporters made good on their promises and she was cared for through the endless love and effort of friends and family supported by community fundraising right up until the end, often turning their own lives upside down to ensure Peters got what she needed, or wanted.

It became clear, however, that her time was coming to an end.

“Lee-Anne had been enjoying a wonderful week of music and love with her father Frank, step-mom Wendy-lady, and her sister Lisa,” said friend Erin Kapela, who had been spearheading fundraising efforts and playing the role of spokesperson for years. “Lee-Anne’s health was deteriorating rapidly and this was not unexpected. Each day the something else seemed to go and her body was shutting down.”

Peters got her wish to dying comfortably in her sleep, in her own bed at home. It happened early in the morning of Aug. 14.

“She knew she was dying and she had come to a place of acceptance realizing that she would not live to see her 30th birthday,” Kapela said. “We will miss our feisty little pirate immensely. I am personally very proud of the how this team was able to support Lee-Anne to live her way right until the very end.”

Peters was predeceased by her mom Tracy and nephew Caiden. She leaves behind her father Frank Peters, step-mom Wendy Verbeek, sister Lisa Peters. brothers Ryan Peters and Robin Guertson, as well as brother-in-law Rob Schmidt, sister-in-law, Jennie Imeson, and nieces and nephews Jack Peters, Evan Guertsen, Alaina Peters, and Isabelle Mackinaw.

Lee-Anne’s care team was very much an extension of Time To Heal.

All of her caregivers were clients and one of the main reasons they were able to support Lee-Anne to the end of her life was because of the support, counselling, guidance, and treatments provided, according to the Time to Heal Community.

“At the end it was hard,” the group said. “The caregivers were stretched to their max, exhausted physically and emotionally after every shift. They would often leave Lee-Anne’s house and come collapse on the couch at Time To Heal for encouragement and guidance.”

Just Posted

Sierra Acton, regional district director for Shawnigan Lake. (file photo)
New parkland in Shawnigan creating connections

Used to created parking for the popular Masons Beach Park

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Chris Wilkinson
Chris Wilkinson column: This could be the worst thing done to you during the pandemic

As a result, all of us will contend with more ‘scarcity’ thinking and mindset.

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Most Read