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Jan English

Location : Newcastle, Ontario Canada

Nominated By : Amanda

When I think about who inspires me, the first woman that comes to mind is my mom. My mother has been an inspiration when it comes to all aspects of life. She has accomplished and overcome so much with grace, kindness, and humour.

My mom grew up in a post-depression era and her only options for work when she graduated high school were receptionist or nurse. The kindness of Robert McLaughlin (car manufacturer) allowed her to attend nursing school at no cost. She tried a few different specialities before landing on mental health.

She went on to create and lead the VON mobile crisis unit, addressing immediate needs of individuals in the community. She then started to explore case management which was new and innovative. She became a leader in the field and developed the case management program at Durham College. She moved on to Ontario Shores and revamped their Forensic Unit.

In between all of her professional achievements, she was married twice. The first time was to a man that she wasn’t in love with. She married because it was the ‘thing to do’ at her age, later realizing that she wasn’t in love. It was a difficult decision to end the relationship since divorce wasn’t widely accepted (she was even kicked out of her church as a result). Later, she met my dad, the love of her life. She was told that she couldn’t have children so my parents decided to adopt… which is when I came into the picture. My adoption wasn’t easy, it took 13 years to finalize. My mom and dad were so committed to me, they prevailed and I am so eternally grateful.

In between all of that, she has dealt with many health complications. The first was cancer in the 90’s which was later linked to a treatment that she was required to undergo in order to become a nurse. The medical practitioners gave her a 10% chance to live. With her clinical background and desire to advance medicine, she agreed to undergo experimental treatment and survived against all odds. The second health issue resulted in a year at various hospitals. She continues to have related health issues now, and the nurses at the local hospital have come to love her.

Despite all of the setbacks, her love, compassion, humour and kindness have never wavered. She has since been accepted back into the church and is an active participant, knitting and quilting for folks in need and attending church regularly. I only hope that one day, I will be like her… she is truly an inspiration.