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‘Most incredible woman’: Remembering Alberta doctor who died after avalanche in Banff National Park​

Laura Kosakoski pictured on a sponsored Arc’teryx trip to Nepal in November 2019.
Laura Kosakoski pictured on a sponsored Arc’teryx trip to Nepal in November 2019. Courtesy: Robin O’Neill

Family and friends gathered in the Canmore Nordic Centre on Saturday to remember an outdoorsy family doctor who died after being injured in an avalanche last week.

READ MORE: ‘Worst case scenario’: Alberta doctor buried in avalanche dies in hospital

Dr. Laura Kosakoski, 34, a family doctor from Canmore, was swept up in an avalanche on Mount Hector in Banff National Park on Jan. 10. She died in a Calgary hospital on Jan. 11.

“Laura loved being a ‘family doc’ in a small town,” read her obituary, which was written by her brother Graham Kosakoski and her husband Adam Campbell, an athlete sponsored by Arc’teryx​, and provided to Global News by the sporting goods company.

“She treated her patients with compassion and skill, and although her career was brief, it was widely and deeply felt.”

Learning, travelling and healing

Kosakoski was born in Vancouver to Becky and Gord Kosakoski, and raised in Kamloops, being at the top of her game (and class) in academics, arts and athletics, according to her family.

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“Laura had a particular fondness for hockey, a sport she played at the elite representative level, often on boys’ teams due to her skill,” her obituary said.

In Kamloops, Kosakoski grew to love the outdoors, through mountain camping trips and father-daughter fly-fishing sessions, her family said.

After graduating high school in 2003, Kosakoski moved to Vancouver to study neuroscience at the University of British Columbia. She played on the Thunderbirds women’s hockey team, earning the moniker “most inspirational player” from her teammates.

After finishing her undergraduate degree, Kosakoski volunteered in South and Central America, then headed back to Vancouver in 2010 to study medicine.

“During medical school, Laura quickly fell in love with rural medicine and travelled across B.C. to provide essential care to rural communities,” her obituary read. “Laura additionally travelled to South Africa, where she volunteered her care in the impoverished townships of Soweto.”

After medical school, Kosakoski was accepted into the University of Calgary’s anesthesiology residency program, and continued to volunteer in rural communities in Canada and abroad, according to her family. While in that city, she met Campbell and rediscovered her love of the mountains, becoming an ultramarathon runner, mountaineer and backcountry skier.

Laura Kosakoski is shown in this image provided by Adam Campbell. She died on Jan. 11, 2020.
Laura Kosakoski is shown in this image provided by Adam Campbell. She died on Jan. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO- Adam Campbell

“Laura and Adam travelled extensively during their time together, racing across mountains in their backyard and across the globe,” her obituary read. “Although she left us far too young, if you measure a life by its stories rather than its years, Laura led an unmistakably long and passionate life.”

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She switched to family medicine two years into her residency because her family said she believed “this was the best way she could make a lasting impact on her patients’ lives.”

The couple moved to Canmore in 2017 after Kosakoski finished her residency.

“Laura was the most incredible woman — loving, compassionate, curious, passionate and absolutely beautiful,” Campbell said in a statement.

“Laura has been my rock, and has shown me that true beauty, love and joy can be found in even the most trying of circumstances. That spirit defined her, and we’re keeping that close to our hearts today. Laura touched so many lives, and there are no words to express how deeply she will be missed.”

Adam Campbell and Laura Kosakoski pictured on a sponsored Arc’teryx trip to Nepal in November 2019.
Adam Campbell and Laura Kosakoski pictured on a sponsored Arc’teryx trip to Nepal in November 2019. Courtesy: Robin O’Neill

Kosakoski’s kindness

Her obituary explained that Kosakoski was guided by a saying: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

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Kosakoski’s family said her example will live on forever.

“Her kindness, wisdom and infectious laugh left a deep and lasting impression on the lives she touched,” her obituary read. “Laura cared deeply for her family and friends, messaging daily with her mom and brother, and was deemed a ‘best bud’ by all who knew her intimately.”

Kosakoski is survived by Campbell, Becky and Graham.