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Remembering Gina Sorbara

The international optometric community mourns with immense pain the passing of a great professional, researcher, and colleague, Luigina (Gina) Sorbara,  OD, MSc. Gina left us on February 10, 2021, after fighting for a year against cancer, first against breast cancer, which she won, but then pancreatic and colon cancers, unrelated to each other, were both terminal and forced her to retire early, giving up her license when she was not yet ready to do so. 

 

She never gave up. In her last e-mail she wrote to me on January 21, when she was still in the oncologist's office, she was happy because for the first time, she felt like she had a better understanding of what happened to her and she was convinced that with some treatment changes she wouldn't die that soon. With this new take on her life, despite being very tired, she was looking forward to finding relief from the pain. I was so happy with this news and wrote to her that I wasn't ready to lose her, so she had to keep fighting. When the terrible news came, I was shocked and destroyed with grief. 

 

Loyalty, love, availability, generosity, ethics, determination, and maternal instinct were innate in Gina. She was always ready to give up whatever she was doing if someone asked her for help. Her children Jess and Emi and her husband Ben, her 43-year-old companion, will keep an immense memory of her, but they will lack her unconditional support and strength. 

 

Gina was original from southern Italy, Giuseppina and Luigi (her parents), and was the youngest of 5 brothers. Gina was immensely proud of her mother Giuseppina Sorbara, who lost her husband Luigi when Gina was still a child and raised her five children with an all-Italian motto: "Forza."

 

Gina has transferred this energy and values into her job as a full professor at the University of Waterloo (Canada). She vigorously encouraged all of her graduate students to finish their doctoral theses and master's thesis on time. They didn't have to stop. Her students considered her a second mother because she sat with them and supported them towards the completion of their work. Her sensitivity was always surprising towards all students, even those she never met; she had donated more than 100 books from her library to an optometry school in Algeria.

 

Gina has published more than 100 articles during her 40-year career and was an international speaker. Gina was also a speaker at the last congress, The Summit of Specialty Contacts, held in November 2019 in Rome, president of the poster judge committee and the representative of IACLE for the celebration of the association's 40th anniversary at the congress in Rome. During the gala dinner, Mindy Toabe and I presented an Excellence Award for her contribution to contact lenses. She was an inspiration to many optometrists. It is not possible to apply a corneal lens without referring to Gina; It is impossible to do contact lens design calculations without referring to Gina. Gina had also become part of The Summit's scientific and organizing committee. This represented an enormous privilege and honor for everyone, and I know that it will not be easy to organize and hold the next congress without Gina's advice and presence. 

 

I find a little comfort in her words in her last e-mail from her: "Last November at your meeting was such an honor for me that I will never forget.

 

"Gina's life was full of strength and conviction. She knew how to live life, and she never stopped." One way to honor her is to try to live as she lived.

 

 

More about Dr. Gina Sorbara:

https://uwaterloo.ca/optometry-vision-science-newsletter/insight-newsletter-spring-2020/feature/celebrating-dr-gina-sorbara

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxNiglOJziM&feature=youtu.be

 

 

 

Daddi Fadel

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