Remembering Leonie Coates...
Leonie Coates died from
on May 22nd, 2006.
It was in Leonie's memory that the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation was established.
Leonie's daughters, Rachel Brown and Jackie Whiting first launched the Silver Ribbon Foundation (SRF) for Ovarian Cancer on May 22nd 2007, exactly one year after her death. However, requests were made by clinicians for the Foundation to represent all gynaecological cancers due to great need for support and education. The sisters agreed, and SRF was deregistered and in its place the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation was registered as a charity to represent all gynaecological cancers in 2009. Leonie desperately wanted to help other women and their families through education and awareness of the signs and symptoms of women's cancers, and to support others with the disease.
Leonie's husband Allan gifted $10,000 from her estate and this funding along with sheer hard work and commitment of her daughters to honour her wishes, meant New Zealand women finally had their first dedicated Gynaecological Charity.
Leonie is the reason the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation was established.
It was her wish that assistance be available to women in her situation to enhance their quality of life, to share and to inform healthy women of their risks.
The following is the Obituary that appeared in the Christchurch Star Newspaper shortly after Leonie's death:
Leonie Coates died at Nurse Maude Hospice on May 22nd, 2006. Leonie died of Ovarian Cancer, referred to as the ‘silent killer’. It was her wish that this disease receive more public attention to help save lives. In 2005 Leonie wrote a document entitled ‘My life’, referred to below. Leonie was born on the 10th of April 1949, in Christchurch. She was the third of four children - sister of Paul, Carol and Wayne.Leonie was married to Allan, and they celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary on May 11 2006. Leonie has 2 daughters, Rachel and Jackie, and a son Paul. She has 2 Granddaughters whom she adored, Harriett and Grace. Leonie attended Linwood North Primary and Linwood High School . Early on Leonie worked in several pharmacies, including Wainoni, Riccarton, and Beckenham. She also worked in Godfreys Laboratory.
Leonie writes that her work places were a source of great friends – particularly Barrington and Halswell Medical Centres and later at Harcourts’ City and Beckenham offices. Leonie’s later career change to Real Estate was courageous and she was a real success. Leonie wrote of the wonderful family holidays in Timaru, and the Marlborough Sounds. In the last few years Leonie and Allan shared wonderful holidays in their caravan at Gore Bay.In her story Leonie names many people who have been close, treasured friends. She made time for everyone, even when she was very ill. Leonie’s, “My life” story contains very loving, personal messages to her closest family. She was happiest when with her family, especially her granddaughters. There was much fun to be had at school holiday time – baking, camping, movies, the park. Leonie had a great sense of humour - mischievous , witty and cheeky! She was assertive, very capable, elegant and stylish, and above all, beautiful.Leonie was devastated at having to be parted from her family through her illness. Leonie showed tremendous courage and resilience in the face of cancer. Through this time she was able to show the world that she was even more amazing than we already knew. Leonie wrote: “It seems so unfair but I suppose that’s life”.Rachel Brown & Jacqueline Whiting were Co-founders in 2007 and past Board Members from 2009-2010.