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Angela Cherene Wong

Daughter, sister, cousin, Disneyland aficionado. Born on Sept. 28, 1970, in Calgary; died on May 3, 2014, in Nanaimo, B.C., from complications of a congenital heart defect, aged 43.

Angela was born with a heart defect and doctors told her parents, Martin and Beverly Wong, that she would not live past the age of two. But she proved the doctors wrong, showing a fighting spirit from the very beginning. Slight in stature, she was a giant in strength and resolve.

A year after Angela was born in Calgary, her parents moved to Nanaimo, B.C., where she was raised with her two brothers, Chris and Nathan, and sister Tina. Faith was an important part of the Wong household and when she was 14, Angela was baptized as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. She shared her faith with everyone she could.

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After finishing Grade 12, Angela ran a day care with her mother, looking after the children as if they were her own.

But according to her sister, Angela's dream job would have been to be a "Disneyland inspector." She took many trips to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., and described it as her happiest place on Earth.

Travelling was one of Angela's many passions. She loved long road trips from British Columbia to Alberta, where she often stayed in Edmonton visiting maternal relatives. Other favourite destinations included Hawaii, Florida, New York and Chicago.

Despite her physical limitations, Angela enjoyed many activities, such as scrapbooking and card making, shopping, watching movies and dining out (her favourite spots in Nanaimo were Alice's Restaurant, Starbucks, White Spot and MGM Restaurant for the early-bird special).

She also loved anything with a slight competitive edge, from Monopoly to card games – especially if she won.

Angela was seen as the glue that kept the family together. She was very close to her paternal grandparents, Frank and Jennie, and visited them frequently at their Nanaimo home. She also loved spending time with her nephew, Sean, and niece, Calyssa. And she kept in touch with friends and relatives through social media, such as Facebook.

My sharpest memory of Angela is a visit she paid to our family in Port Coquitlam in the spring of 1991, when she was 20 and I was 15. She was coming from Nanaimo by bus and we went to pick her up at the downtown depot.

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She was travelling with a large oxygen tank, because breathing often became difficult for her. When I saw that tank, the reality of her condition suddenly hit home. I realized how much pain she was enduring – and the intense effort she was making – simply to visit us.

Angela was strong and determined to live life on her own terms. Despite her health challenges she never accepted pity as an option. March on, push forward, enjoy your life, live every moment. That's what she did.

Brandon Yip is Angela's cousin.

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