Lauren Hill was prepared for the day she passed away, but the teenager kept smiling through it all.
USA Today is reporting that Hill, 19, passed away from complications resulting from an aggressive brain tumor. Hill was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare form of pediatric cancer that strikes the brain, just after she celebrated her 18th birthday. Usually, DIPG strikes children between the ages of 4 to 9.
“When I was diagnosed I remember kind of feeling lonely because nobody understood. And now that more people know about this story and the awareness of DIPG. I’m so happy that people know about it now and that we can get some research going and hopefully find that home run cure for cancer,” Lauren said.
She continued, “And even though I’m probably not going to be around to see it, it’s going to help a lot of people. And that’s why we need to keep staying with this and not end it with this game, and keep supporting research.”
Hill coupled that call for support with a desire to play collegiate basketball. She had chosen to attend Division III Mount St. Joseph’s in Cincinnati, Ohio. Forty-nine days later, Lauren told her new college about her tumor.
According to TSN, Lauren was playing for her Lawrenceburg, Indiana, high school basketball team when she began experiencing headaches and dizziness. Tests revealed she had the tumor. A series of treatments were ordered to quell the growing tumor, to no avail. Lauren Hill knew then she had, at most, two years left to live.
And live, Lauren did.
In an effort to play college basketball, the NCAA granted an exception for Mount St. Joseph’s to play before the season started to ensure Lauren was able to participate. Lauren scored two baskets, both on layups, during the game. Lauren would play in three more games, scoring three more baskets, before the tumor would take that away from her.
So, she became an assistant coach.
Lauren also started a non-profit fundraising organization, The Cure Starts Now Foundation. The basketball game helped raise $40,000 for the foundation. Overall, Lauren’s foundation has raised over $1.5 million to battle cancer.
She continued practicing with the Mount St. Joseph’s team even though turning her head caused her to tire easily and get dizzy, which got worse as the tumor grew. She continued attending class until, near the end, she needed to be placed in hospice care.
From the day Lauren found out, she fought with determination, courage, and a smile. In the face of the treatments, the pain, and the realization, she continued to educate others about her condition and to raise money for more research. DIPG took her life, but not her heart, or her spirit. Or her smile.
That courageous smile.
[Image courtesy of Bleacher Report]