Jane Alison Stephen, age 58, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, passed away on August 11, 2016 at the Victoria General Hospital, after two years of living courageously and gracefully with terminal cancer. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, she was the daughter of Leonard and Roxina Stephen.
Jane travelled widely in her youth, pursuing a love of European culture, poetry, literature, and adventure. Settling in Halifax, she married and gave birth to her two adored children, Luke and Alexandra Arsenault. While raising her children primarily as a single mother, she put herself through college at St. Mary’s University, excelling at her classwork with a focus on both theology and literature, and ultimately obtaining a Bachelor of Social Work, all while working as both a contributing and board member to Lamplight and OVO Housing Co-ops.
Jane was a skillful and inspired social worker for Capital Health. With a sensitivity to those in need and borne of a deeply kind nature, Jane brought an extraordinary level of empathy to her clients. Many times, when she was walking or busing with friends in Halifax, former clients would approach Jane and thank her for the difference that she made in their lives.
Jane’s favorite place to be was always at the edge of the water, on the sand, with the vista of the ocean before her. After raising her children to successful adulthood, she met her husband Philip Chapman, and embarked on a freer, more expansive time of life. Only two years later, she became ill and was given a terminal diagnosis. But in characteristic fashion, she lived her last years with the courage, intensity and passionate interest in others that had always been her gift. Although she couldn’t make the long Mediterranean journeys she’d planned with her husband and friends, she continued to draw comfort from boat excursions on Mahone Bay and her much-loved Nova Scotia beaches where she basked in the wind and sea.
Even in her last weeks, Jane made a profound impression on the caregivers, volunteers, and families of other patients at the VG Palliative Care Unit, many of whom had meaningful conversations with her and all of whom witnessed her pushing her walker up and down the halls, dressed in beautiful clothes and wearing bright jewelry, including them all in her warmth and concern up until her final days.
Jane is survived by her beloved children Luke Arsenault and Alexandra Arsenault, her husband Philip Chapman, and her family of friends, Alexandra Thurman, Erni Satalic, Yvonne Manzer, Paul Hannon, Darlene Hashem, Deanna Deal, Saskia Roche, Kim Bernard and Catherine Butterly. She is also survived by her parents, her sisters Mary Stephen, Elizabeth Stephen, Theresa Stephen, and her nieces and nephews. And of course, there is her adoring canine companion, Ceilidh, who charmed all who encountered her at the VG Palliative Care Unit. Jane was pre-deceased by her brother, David Stephen.
A sincere thank you to the doctors, nurses and staff of the QE II Surgical, Oncology and Palliative Care Units who looked after Jane during her illness. A special thanks to her loving friends who stayed by her side throughout.
A celebration of Jane’s life will take place at what was Jane’s favourite place to meet, Julien’s, 5517 Young Street, Halifax on Wednesday, August 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers and in recognition of the need for advanced palliative options within the community of the sort not available during her own illness, Jane asked that donations be made to Hospice Halifax: http://hospicehalifax.org/index.php/donate-now/.