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Evalynn Linnea Olson

Evalynn Linnea Olson

November 26th, 1959 - November 15th, 2021

Biography


Amesbury, MA – Evalynn Linnea Olson, known to all as “Linnea”, died at the age of 61 on Monday, November 15, 2021. She was a mother, loved by family and friends for her vast artistic mind and warrior spirit, as well as a fierce advocate and blogger for the cancer community while living with lung cancer for 17 years. Linnea is survived by her three wonderful children, Jemesii Delande and Peter Duff of the greater Boston area and August Kaan of Toledo, OH. 


Linnea was born on November 26, 1959, in Ann Arbor, MI, the eldest child of Dr. Hilding Gunnar “Ollie” Olson and Evalynn (Pier) Olson Betzing Goodman. She shared her life with her extended family, including her step-mother Carolyn Olson Kersten of San Angelo, TX, her step-father James Goodman of St. George, UT, and her deceased step-father Richard Betzing of Fort Collins, CO. She enjoyed an active childhood with her six brothers and sisters: John Olson and his wife Amanda (Fort Collins, CO); Kristin “Bink” Owsley and her husband Greg (Fort Collins, CO); Laura Pastor and her husband Andy (Austin, TX); Diana Galvin and her husband Bobby (Temple, TX); Daniel Olson (Anchorage, AK); and Rosalie Olson and her husband Brian Dougherty (Boulder, CO).  She is also survived by her nine beloved nieces and nephews, including Shannon Olson Payne; Mesa and Zola Owsley; Jacquelynne Amaro; Max, Eli and Hale Pastor; Magnus and Alma Dougherty; her grandniece Jordynne Amaro and grandnephew Iverson Mentel. Being with her family brought Linnea tremendous joy and fueled her incorrigible zest for life.


Linnea graduated from Poudre High School in Fort Collins, CO in 1977. She pursued her passion for oil painting and received a bachelor’s degree in Art, Painting Concentration from Colorado State University in 1981. Following this, she lived in Fort Collins and later the San Francisco Bay Area where she began raising her children and working at the Redwood City Public Library. In 1996, Linnea and family moved to Ipswich, MA, later residing in Meredith and Amherst, NH, and Lowell, Haverhill and Amesbury, MA. As a lifelong artist, Linnea had an incredible eye for finding beauty in the ordinary – which she captured in her paintings, curated collections and nature photography. She found inspiration in beaches and sidewalks, rivers and train tracks- constantly in a state of creation.


In 2001, despite her active, healthy lifestyle, Linnea began experiencing challenges with her health, progressing to a long bout with pneumonia. As an otherwise healthy, young, non-smoking female, accurate diagnosis was elusive.  After several years of medical evaluations, her life was changed when she was diagnosed with stage 1B lung cancer.  Her youngest child was still in elementary school. Determined to be present for her family, she pursued clinical care at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where she was followed by the oncology teams of Douglas J. Mathisen, MD, Thomas J. Lynch, Jr., MD, Alice T. Shaw, MD and Jessica J. Lin, MD. 


Due to the advanced nature of her cancer, Linnea found herself as a patient at the forefront of cancer treatment and research. With deep belief in scientific research and a voracious need for more time, over the space of 17 years she was a participant in six clinical trials, which served as landmark studies that changed the course of lung cancer targeted therapy the world over. Her body responded well to the novel therapeutics, to the extent that medical imaging scans of her lungs, before and after treatment, are still shown on display at the Paul S. Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation at MGH.


In 2005, Linnea’s natural inclination to connect with others, along with her poetic yet precise way with words, led her to create a blog entitled: “life and breath: outliving lung cancer - for the terminally optimistic” (outlivinglungcancer.com). Her blog soon became a resource for more than 4,000 followers, from patients and caregivers to physicians and biomedical researchers. Her well-informed and bravely candid writing shared essential resources and medical knowledge, while also giving voice to what it is often like for patients living with cancer. With honesty and humor, her writing created a community that stands as a testament to who she was. Linnea had a curiosity for life and learning, a talent for teaching, and an unyielding desire to share her unbiased, truthful observations of the world around her.


Always a strong patient advocate, Linnea’s work touched the lives of people around the world. She presented at numerous forums, including Harvard Medical School, TED Talks, industry presentations and international conferences.  In 2016, Linnea was awarded LUNGevity’s Survivor Face of Hope award for her tireless work on behalf of fellow patients and served on the External Advisory Board of their committee “Patient FoRCe.”  She was also honored as the 2020 Recipient of the LUNGevity Annual Fan Award.  In 2019, she served on a group panel at the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Barcelona, Spain to address best ways to support patients and clinicians in their search for clues to combat lung cancer. She joined the board of trustees of the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF.org) shortly thereafter.  She was a 2020 recipient of A Fresh Chapter foundation grant to visit with fellow cancer patients in Peru.  Additionally, she was on a Hackathon in 2021 to promote efforts to find new drug therapies.


Linnea identified equally as both advocate and artist. Between 2012 and 2019 she lived at the Western Avenue Studio and Lofts – an artist’s community in Lowell, MA. Linnea was well known to all as a friend, an informal counselor and a generous spirit. While she spoke of herself as a painter, Linnea’s artistic identity was as often defined by an insatiable desire to collect and curate. Linnea packed her studio with fascinating collections of shells, sea glass, bell jars, books, antique doll heads, globes, vintage clothing, rusted bits of metal, pieces of discarded paper and wood and an impressive array of other interesting things she found on her frequent walks, thrift store trips and eBay scourings. She had an incredible eye as a curator, turning seemingly unwanted, discarded items into stunning collections. 2018, her last exhibition, Found, at the Linda Hummel-Shea ArtSpace Gallery of Northern Essex Community College presented dozens of assemblages -- combinations of found objects that together create new poetic meanings. These works embodied Linnea’s drive to find deeper meaning in her life through her art and collections- and her deep love for the often overlooked or forgotten.


One of Linnea’s most sacred daily routines was a long, wandering walk which became even more important after adopting her energetic Shiba Inu, Kumo.  Linnea often documented her walking observations in a series of Facebook posts she called “Notes from the Field.” Reading them offered a glimpse into Linnea’s heart and mind.  On March 21, 2021, Linnea wrote:


  • Tree trunk, knot like a navel.

  • Sun wraps the back of my head.

  • Plastic bag caught on a branch; pale ghost.

  • Wind chimes sounding like summer.

  • Sunday morning paper.

Her friends will carry Linnea’s inspiration in every walk while she reminds them to keep their eyes open to the beauty of the world around them and to remain always curious.


Linnea’s family and friends offer their deepest thanks to the incredible team of providers at the Mass General Cancer Center. Their intellect, kindness and devotion to patient care is exemplary.  Gratitude for the kindness of friends who helped Linnea throughout her journey.  Sleepovers, rides, dinners, unanticipated flower bouquets, dog walking and assistance in many forms enabled Linnea to live fully and vibrantly.  Know that each act of kindness meant the world to her.


 


A celebration of her extraordinary life will be held on Friday, December 3 from 6PM – 9PM at Maria’s Restaurant - Galleria Banquet Room, 85 Essex Street, Haverhill, MA.  For more information, please link to:  rememberinglinnea.com.  Out of an abundance of caution for family and fellow guests, attendees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks. Donations in Linnea’s honor can be made to LUNGstrong.org (which will be directed to MGH lung cancer research), LUNGevity.org or ICRF.org.

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Family

About

Name Evalynn Linnea Olson
Date of Birth November 26th, 1959
Date of Death November 15th, 2021
Home Town Fort Collins, CO, US 
Other City Amesbury, MA, US 
Interests Family & Friends, Art, Advocacy, Collecting, Walking, Wandering
In Memoriam Donation LungStrong
Family

Family

ParentsHilding Gunnar "Ollie" Olson, Evalynn Pier Olson Betzing Goodman
ChildrenAugust Kaan, Peter Duff, Jemesii Delande
Milestone

Milestones

1959 - 2021 Artist
1974 - 1977 Poudre High School, HS
1977 - 1981 Colorado State University, BA
2000 - 2021 Advocate

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Jemma published a tribute .

Can someone from Linnea’s family please share with me happened?

I’d be most appreciative. Linnea worked so hard to live!

Please… if you would please share. If not publicly then directly to:

[email protected]

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Jemma Lambert published a tribute .

I’d been emailing Linnea of late, hoping to connect in the remarkable way one did with her; spirited, joyous and always surprising. Having not heard from her today, this day; February 11th, 2022 I learned about the enormous loss, the incalculable loss of Linnea. I’m devastated.

We joined in long walks, museum visits, meals and a love of the unknown.

Linnea, gorgeous you, powerful you.

Much peace.

Jemma

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Deidre Malloy published a tribute .

She was just amazing ..serene ,determined ,a winged spirit..full of thought, talent and fun an enduring classic.beauty

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Emily Venanzi published a tribute .

As I think is the case with so many in the ALK Positive lung cancer community, Linnea’s story was the first I came across when searching online for information about the terrible diagnosis I’d just received. To find Linnea’s wonderful blog, full of her stories of living vibrantly and advocating fiercely for people with lung cancer, was just what I needed to give me hope at a dark time. When I happened to spot Linnea a couple of months later in the waiting room at MGH Cancer Center, I felt like I was seeing a celebrity! I got up my nerve to introduce myself, and Linnea was so gracious and not at all bothered to have her quiet time interrupted by a new fan! I enjoyed getting to know Linnea better over the next few years, as we saw each other at lung cancer conferences and worked together on ALK Positive projects. We enjoyed talking about our kids, and she gave great advice on living with lung cancer for the long haul.

Linnea’s clinical trial participation enabled the development of multiple treatments for our type of cancer. Her contributions are prolonging the lives of countless people with ALK+ cancer all over the world, and I like to think there’s a piece of her spirit in each of us.

Here’s a photo of Linnea after her awesome November 2019 TED talk in Boston, celebrating a few days before her 60th birthday.

Thinking of you all as you celebrate her life today, especially Linnea's family and all who loved her. -Emily

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Joannah Wadsworth published a tribute .

Hello My name is Jo but although I never knew Linnea she sounded amazing.i am a fellow Alk Positive sufferer. My deep felt condolences to all her family. Her story has inspired me to live life to the full.joannah wadsworth

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Gwendolyn Dixon published a comment .

Just learned of this. Linnea I felt honored to know you if only via reading your blog. I found your blog 8 years ago when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and eventually passed and your blog helped me immeasurably. I was continually astounded by your brilliant way of documenting your life. Your writing style was also pure genius and stunningly beautiful. RIP Linnea. Will never forget you. Love, Gwendolyn

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Karen Arscott published a tribute .

This is beautiful - Linnea was a warrior for certain - and a wonderful friend on the lung cancer journey. She helped so many along the way. Rest In Peace my friend. Love you forever!

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Ts Berger published a tribute .

Oh Lynn O, I’m so sad hearing about your death. I have thought of you and smiled many times over the past forty plus years. I was Lynn’s art teacher at Poudre, it was my second year teaching. I retired after 33 years and then taught another 12 at the University of Northern Colorado. Every semester in Design class we studied Picasso and Abstraction. Lynn did such a painterly example using all of the Five Principals of Abstraction that I shared it with my classes from then on. At UNC I would apologize and say to the students. “Sorry all of my examples are on slides, if I ever go full time I’ll transfer to digital. “
I liked to put the slide projector way far back in the room and show the image to fill the entire screen.

At UNC I taught Art Appreciation, and every unit on Picasso included the Five Principals of Abstraction, and that last slide of Lynn O’s would drop and I would just stand there and think of her and smile. The last class my pause was just a little longer than it should have been and as I gazed and thought, I was interrupted…”Professor Berger, Mr Berger you alright?” …… “Well yeah, that’s Lynn O, see how she showed the woman from more than one angle of view, and her use of geometric shapes…and I point to each of the principals. Five times a semester. Well yes it is an understatement that I thought about Lynn many times over the years.
Not long after Lynn graduated I came across a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that I really liked. “Nothing great ever happened without enthusiasm” Kinda sounds like Lynn doesn’t it? Many years later I learned that I had the quote a little off; it was supposed to be “nothing great was ever achieved.” Only when I began teaching at UNC and I was checking my sources did I actually find the entire quote, it’s such a powerful message and thinking about Lynn O.
Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Godspeed Lynn O. TS Berger

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Brian Alves published a comment .

This is such a wonderful tribute! I was the last to share a studio with Linnea and I can tell you that her talent never waned. You were clearly a decisive influence. She would very much smile at your memories.

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Mementos

Celebration of Life: Evalynn "Linnea" Olson

December 3rd, 2021 at 6:00pm
Maria's Restaurant - Galleria Banquet Room
Haverhill,
Event Details & RSVP

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