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Remembering Gamela Jarkas – Wife, Sister, Colleague and Friend

Gamela Jarkas will always be remembered by her family, friends and colleagues for her kind and generous nature.

“Everybody that knew my sister loved her. If you were to talk to anyone at [her] work, they all had a lot of respect for her. She was just that type of person. She was giving. She listened,” says Noor Asiff, Gamela’s older sister. “Even when she was in the hospital when she was sick and the nurses would come in, all of a sudden my sister was listening to their stories and the next day, she would be asking them about themselves. She was always just had that kind of generous heart and was a real giving person.”

In June 2015, Gamela was diagnosed with an uncommon inflammatory disease that causes severe muscle weakness, and led her to lose 90 per cent of her mobility - virtually overnight.

While receiving care in Edmonton, Gamela was diagnosed with stage three cancer. Following her diagnosis, she was transferred to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, where she would undergo chemotherapy. A resident of Fort McMurray for almost 40 years, Noor says Gamela was relieved to hear she would be going back to Fort McMurray.

“She was incredibly happy to be going back to the Northern Lights, where she would be cared for in her home community,” Noor shares.

Sadly, Gamela’s immune system was unable to handle the first round of Chemotherapy, which resulted in a three-week stay in ICU.

“With the fabulous care of the very professional nurses and doctors, Gamela pulled through and was eventually airlifted to the Royal Alexandra ICU for further treatment,” recalls Noor.

After another 20 days, Gamela was well enough to return to the Health Centre, where she began physiotherapy with one goal – to go home.

Gamela did go home but unfortunately, after a few weeks Gamela became ill again and was re-admitted to the Health Centre.
“She was again treated with dignity and respect from all the staff – from the nurses who spent time trying to make her as comfortable as possible, to the doctor who very sensitively told us there was little more they could do for her while comforting our family with the knowledge that Gamela was not in pain,” she says.

Touched by their compassion, Gamela made a generous donation to the Northern Lights Health Foundation in honour of the Medicine, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy teams who treated her.

“Gamela was an incredibly kind hearted and giving person, and I know expressing her gratitude was very important to her,” says Noor.

After a challenging battle with cancer, Gamela passed away peacefully in February 2016 surrounded by her loved ones.

According to Noor, without the kind and compassion staff at the Health Centre, the loss of her sister would have been much more difficult.

“Without the fantastic help and care of the very committed and devoted staff, I feel we would not have been able to manage. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their care,” she says. “Our lives have been forever touched by everyone at the Health Centre who cared for Gamela and our family during some of the most difficult times of our lives.”

Honour exceptional care today. Honour your Health Care Hero.

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Gamela and her sister Noor enjoying each other's company. 

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