A dedicated member of North Shore Rescue who spent countless hours rescuing others from the backcountry has died after a two-year battle with cancer.
North Shore Rescue announced Tuesday that longtime member Jay Piggot of North Vancouver has died.
“It think it’s a really tough day for everybody. Jay was a huge part of North Shore Rescue,” said team leader Mike Danks.
Curtis Jones, son of late team leader Tim Jones, was a personal friend of Piggot, who was also an ambulance paramedic, and worked with him as a fellow emergency medical responder on a number of rescues. When Piggot was on a mission, he was “pure intensity. The patient was first,” said Jones.
When Tim Jones died suddenly of a fatal heart attack in January 2014, Piggot “was there for me and my family,” said Jones. Now the priority of the team is to support Piggot’s wife Denise and their two young sons, and to continue to include them in the North Shore Rescue family, said Danks
Piggot was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, cancer of the bile duct, two years ago. Rescue team members rallied to support Piggot’s family and to help raise $100,000 to support them while Piggot went through treatment.
A year ago, team members celebrated as Piggot was deemed cancer-free after surgery and chemotherapy.
Piggot told the North Shore News then that his diagnosis and treatment had changed his perspective: “. . . how you look at your children, how you look at your spouse, how you look at your life. There’s so many things people just put aside and say ‘I’ll get to it’ – your fitness, your travelling, doing something special for yourself. Going through that you learn to seize things so much faster,” he said.
Piggot knew the odds, said Jones. “He lived life hard for the past year.” But this fall the cancer returned. He was determined to fight it, until almost the very end, said Danks.
Piggot never stopped taking part in North Shore Rescue activities, even coming out of hospital to help lay a wreath with the team on Remembrance Day. “His commitment to the team and his career saw him continuing to save lives, even while fighting for his own,” said a statement posted by North Shore Rescue.
Tributes from many who worked with or knew Piggot poured in Tuesday.
“Jay was such a bright light and a wonderful person. And such a fighter,” wrote North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornthwaite in sending condolences to Piggot’s family. “May you know Jay was much loved by the community and you have lots of support from all of us.”
“He made a difference in other people’s lives,” said Jones. “He’d like to know he’s inspired other people to do the same thing.”
“We lost a good guy today.”