'The world lost another hero': North Shore rescuer dies of cancer
Published Tuesday, December 5, 2017 10:04AM PST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 5, 2017 6:48PM PST
A Metro Vancouver search and rescue volunteer is being remembered as a hero after dying of cancer early Tuesday morning.
Jay Piggot, a long-time member of North Shore Rescue, died in hospital after a two year fight with Cholangiocarcinoma.
"In my mind... there is no doubt Jay is a hero," said NSR team leader Mike Danks.
"It's a really tough day for our team, but there's also a bit of relief because Jay was in a lot of pain and that's now how you like to see a friend."
In a statement, the group offered its deepest condolences to the wife and two boys Piggot leaves behind.
The rescuer "mounted a monumental fight" against bile duct cancer, NSR said, and achieved full-time status as a paramedic with the BC Ambulance Service while battling the disease.
He was also chosen to join the NSR helicopter flight rescue team.
As he fought for his own life he continued to save the lives of others, NSR wrote.
"With the support of his amazing family, colleagues and the greater community, Jay's tenacity and strength were awe inspiring… He truly embodied the SAR motto, 'That others may live.'"
His efforts were appreciated by the community and his peers.
On Tuesday, Danks remembered how Piggot played an important role of bringing Resilient Minds, an education program intended help rescuers cope with the often traumatic situations they encounter in the field, to the team as well as his involvement with autism awareness.
Others who worked with him remembered him for his "gentle soul."
"It was my honour to fly him on numerous occasions," said helicopter pilot Jim Stibbard. "I think North Shore rescue has lost a really great team member and we've all lost a really great friend."
When Piggot was first diagnosed in 2015, friends, family and strangers raised more than $100,000 in a campaign called "Rescue the Rescuer."
Piggot had a tumour on his liver so large it was inoperable.
He underwent several rounds of chemo and his tumour was finally removed in September 2016.
About a year later, however, it was announced that his cancer had returned.
A second fundraiser raised more than $70,000 for a treatment in the U.S.
At the time, the rescuer told CTV News he was amazed by the support he'd received.
"It's mind-boggling," Piggot said in an interview in October. "It's so hard to explain because people are just so generous. How can people be so generous a second time after I just went through this?"
The money was intended to help pay for a specialized treatment called transarterial chemoembolization, a process that involves slowing down the blood supply to a liver tumour so the cancer cells die out.
Piggot, however, never made it to surgery.
Now, the funds will help pay for his funeral costs and his family's needs moving forward.
"(Piggot) was unfortunately too sick to get the surgery in the U.S.," the description on the FunRazr page said.
"In lieu of paying for this surgery, we want to make sure Jay’s family is taken care of."
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst