A Montreal professor who spent her final weeks paving the way for others as she faced end-stage cancer has died.
“Brave. Thoughtful. Talented. Inspiring. Nadia Chaudhri — a Concordia professor, neuroscientist, mother and wife — will be remembered as much for how she lived to how she fearlessly shared her final days on Twitter and with media,” a post published Wednesday on Concordia University’s website reads.
Chaudhri, 43, passed away on Oct. 5, more than a year after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
From her palliative care bed at the McGill University Health Centre, Chaudhri raised over $500,000 for a scholarship in her name to support minority and historically marginalized students in neuroscience.
She also gained legions of followers on Twitter where she chronicled her journey with a terminal diagnosis, sharing not only moments of vulnerability, but also of great strength and joy.
Chaudhri used her large social media following as an opportunity to raise awareness about the toll of ovarian cancer and the importance of advocating for yourself, as well as the need for more research.
On Tuesday, Liberal MNA Jennifer Maccarone Deputee paid tribute to Chaudhri in Quebec, outlining her numerous achievements.
She also praised Chaudhri’s “dedication and courage” and said it was an “honour” to award her the Medal of the National Assembly.
The medal is awarded by members of the National Assembly to citizens who are deserving of recognition.
Chaudhri leaves behind her husband and six-year-old son — whom she referred to lovingly as her ‘sun and moon’ — as well as numerous colleagues, friends and thousands of strangers on Twitter whose lives she touched.
As news of Chaudhri’s passing spread, so too did messages of support, prompted in part by a tweet from Dr. Krista Byers-Heinlein, a close friend and colleague who shared Chaudhri’s last wishes.
“Nadia wanted the end of her life to be marked with a celebration of everything she brought to the world, rather than a mourning of what we have lost,” she wrote, alongside a photo of the two picking blueberries.
“I invite you to share your own thoughts and memories.”
Some replied to the tweet with memories of how they first met Chaudhri. Others shared anecdotes of how they bonded over their love of certain foods like mangoes or crisps, or how they shared the same vision and goals.
“The last time I saw @NadiaChaudhri was at the CCNP meeting in Montreal,” wrote Catharine Winstanley. “We were drinking white wine and eating pizza at a bistro, planning to smash the patriarchy and promote women in science. I’ll do my best to carry her light and vision forward.”
But one thing that stands out is how all seemed to recognize the light Chaudhri carried within.
“The kindness and grace that she shared through Twitter empowered me during my own cancer journey. Her light gave me hope and encouraged me to live again. My family and I are forever grateful,” a reply posted by Jesse Sturgeon reads.
That feeling was echoed in numerous other posts.
“Nadia was a stranger who felt like a friend,” Louise Forbes wrote. “Somehow after three years of darkness she has helped me start to see little chinks of light. In her bravery I found a little more strength. She showed how to live life, including how to accept help.”
While details of Chaudhri’s funeral have yet to be released, those who followed her on Twitter will know that she will find peace under the bright fall leaves of a Serviceberry tree.