It was with great sadness that the Brest Cancer Group at Mohn Cancer Research Laboratory received the news that Hildegunn had passed away on the evening of December 10. Her death was not unexpected; we knew she was seriously ill and that this was inevitable. However, as she quietly passed away on Monday evening in her own home surrounded by her closest family it was a dignified and good ending to a prolonged illness.
Hildegunn arrived in our group in 1995; and except for natural leaves of absence due to three child births, she was working continuously in our group until her illness made this physically impossible. She belonged to the group of veterans joining us early and working with us up until what the group has become today. Hildegunn excelled from the beginning as a highly skilled coworker. In the beginning she was among those developing our new assays for high-sensitive estrogen-measurements, and this work would later prove decisive in the understanding, and use of, the new aromatase inhibitors, which today is standard treatment for hundreds of thousands of women with breast cancer worldwide. Later she participated in the pioneer-work related to the development of biobanks in addition to performing a number of other analytical tasks. She was one of the key staff members during the planning and furnishing of our new Mohn Cancer Research Laboratory. She was a coworker who never said no to new challenges; she knew her own skills, and she met new challenges with the attitude “I can’t do this, but given the opportunity I would love to learn this and do the task”. Knowledge and appliance of statistics for data-processing is one example, her commitment as HSE-representative is another; together these two examples illustrate the breadth of her work efforts and the skills of an unusually gifted person.
Above all she was one of the founding pillars in the good working environment we have enjoyed for many years in the group. Both as a role model and, not least, as a person actively taking part in the introduction and training of new personnel, she played a key role. Her winning personality and good sense of humor will always be remembered; she was not afraid to bring up problems, but she always did this in a constructive way. It was with great joy that we could formally promote her to senior engineer autumn 2012, a position suitable to the tasks she had executed in an outstanding way over several years.
It was not a coincidence that Hildegunn applied her work energy to cancer research. Through several performance assessments she genuinely expressed how meaningful she found her work. Hence it becomes even more meaningless that it was precisely a cancer disease which would end her life at an early age of 42.
We mourn Hildegunn’s passing. At the same time we are left with a warm memory, and a genuine thank for everything she was for us through all these years; both professionally and personally. Our thoughts are with Hildegunn’s closest family; Svein Inge, who has lost his life partner, and their three minor children who have lost their mother.
Per Eystein Lønning, Professor, K2