This is the 5th year for the St. Baldrick’s fundraiser to raise money in the fight against cancer. The event was started in 2014 as a way to honor the life of Lauren McCullough, a graduate of Laguna Creek High School who passed away from cancer in 2014 at the age of 21. The event will be held at BJ’s Restaurant in Elk Grove from 3:00 to 7:00 pm. If you would like to make a contribution or join Team Lauren Strong, you can https://www.stbaldricks.org/teams/mypage/117389/2018
Last year I had the chance to talk with Lauren’s mom, Deanne, about Lauren and her fight against cancer and what made her such a special young woman.
I recalled reading and hearing about Lauren a few years ago. I was not aware of her complete story until the day I talked to Deanne. My wife Sally was diagnosed with cancer almost 19 years ago at the age of 27. Luckily the cancer she had was treatable. Any stories about young people with cancer make me think back to that time when we found out Sally had cancer. It’s honestly not something either of us likes to think about, but we have so much empathy for those that have had to go through this. Honestly it was hard to hear Lauren’s story, but Deanne made it clear that if there was a positive, it was that Lauren wanted to bring awareness to pediatric cancer.
Lauren was a typical teenager, healthy and very active in sports. She loved swimming. While at Laguna Creek High School, she set two records, including one that was 11 years old. She was named “Female Athlete of the Year” during her senior year. After graduating in 2011, she was in Hawaii with her family when she felt some pain in her leg. Upon returning home, she went to the doctor and it was discovered that she had a 10″ long tumor in her leg. She had Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
She underwent 9 months of chemotherapy and 31 radiation treatments. She had to be hospitalized during some of the treatments because the chemotherapy was so intense that she needed to be watched carefully. She finished her treatments in April 2012.
Lauren was determined to live her life and get back to normal. In August of the 2012, she enrolled at Diablo Valley College along with her brother where she resumed swimming. She made all All America and qualified for the State meet in 2013. She was able to swim in one race, but felt pain in her chest. She went to the doctor to have it checked out and was told the cancer had returned and was in her lung. It was an aggressive form of cancer. She resumed chemotherapy treatments in May of 2013. At that time she also started a blog, “The Not Dying Girl“. Lauren wanted to detail what she was going through and how she felt.
A month later in June she received the prognosis that she only had 6 months to live. Possibly even less. She put together a bucket list of things she wanted to do. She was determined to not just roll over and die. One of the things was she wanted to get married before she died. That’s not easy when you don’t have a boyfriend so she asked a friend if he would “marry” her. It would not be a legal marriage, just something ceremonial. So that was one of the things on her list.
In January of 2014 Lauren came back to Laguna Creek High School and spoke at an assembly at the school about bullying. Eight days later on February 2, 2014, Lauren passed away peacefully leaving behind many people whose lives she touched. During our talk today, Lauren’s mom made it a point to say that Lauren believed in being positive. Even when she knew there was no cure or treatments, she stayed positive and was more concerned about others than herself. You can read about the last few months of Lauren’s life on her blog, The Not Dying Girl.
BJ’s Restaurant will be donating 20% of the proceeds of your meal on March 22, between 11 am and 8 pm. Please print out this flier and show it to your server.