Final CaringBridge Entry

A blog reader commented on the CaringBridge entry, so here it is.  The details of Lauren’s final fight show she never gave up.

Things happened so fast, it’s hard to realize it’s real.  Lauren passed away on Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 7:30 am.  After speaking at Laguna Creek High School, her alma mater, on January 24th, at an anti-bullying assembly, Lauren was feeling like she made a difference to the students.  Lauren got two units of blood on Wednesday, January 29th and was feeling much better.  She was looking forward to attending the first Diablo Valley College Swim Meet on Friday to cheer on her former teammates.  The next day she woke up and had a lot of difficulty breathing.  She called 911 and an ambulance took her to the South Sacramento ER. Dad had driven to the house and followed the ambulance while mom drove from work to the ER.

It was determined that the extra fluids involved with getting the blood the day before caused her body to retain too much fluid.  She was given lasix and that made her feel better, but she still needed some help with oxygen.  For the first time, Lauren used the oxygen concentrator that has been in the family room since June.  She had it at a level “3.”  The next day, she asked Mark to increase it to a level “4.”  No swim meet that day because she couldn’t be off oxygen.

On Saturday, when mom went downstairs, Lauren asked for a wheelchair to take her from the bathroom to the couch, which is about 15 feet away.  She was very short of breath and the concentrator was increased to a “5,” its highest level.  Hospice was called and the nurse came to check out the situation.  Her doctor was called to find out his recommendation.  After discussing that this was a progression of her cancer, Lauren decided she wanted to be at home.

Albuterol was ordered, but after receiving the treatment, there was no change.  Lauren wanted to go to Roseville Kaiser, but didn’t think she could make it that far.  911 was called again and they put her on a C-pap to South Sacramento Kaiser.  After she was stabilized, Lauren was taken by ambulance to Roseville.  We were all so thankful that Lauren could be with the staff who knew her and loved her. Before leaving to South Sacramento, Lauren told mom she didn’t want to die in Sacramento.  It was important to Lauren to be with those she had spent so much time with and developed such close relationships with.

Lauren was going to go into Pediatric ICU, but they arranged it so she had a double-sized room on the main floor.  This way her regular nurses could take care of her and stop by to visit.  So many came by to check on Lauren and give her loving support.  Her oxygen saturation continued to decrease.  Eventually, they put her on 100% oxygen.  Dad and Mark had driven to both hospitals while mom rode in the ambulance with Lauren.  After awhile, Susan and Kevin Balko came.  Soon after Job and Abe joined up.  A bit later, Chris and Valerie Rhodes, the owners of Deanne’s company, visited to support Lauren and the family.  We were very thankful for the double-sized room, with so many wanting to be there for Lauren.  Lauren was told that Egor was flying up the next day to be with her.

We found out that the shading on Lauren’s right lung was not fluid, but tumors that had now spread to her “good” lung.  Lauren was really struggling for breath, even with the forced air being used.  She wasn’t able to talk much due to the oxygen mask, but she was aware of everyone who came by.  Lauren’s  former Nurse Practitioner, Tamara, was in town so she came by to give her love.  She stayed until 1:00 am helping to provide support.  Tamara asked Lauren if she was in pain and she shook her head “no.” Then Tamara asked if she was afraid, and she again shook her head “no.” Three other friends of Lauren’s visited and they stayed until almost 2:00 am.

The doctors and nurses made sure to keep Lauren comfortable by giving her pain relief and anti-anxiety meds.  By the early morning Lauren was not responsive.  She passed away very peacefully and painlessly.  Although she wanted to keep fighting her cancer, she fought until there was no fight left in her body.  She was a true warrior.

A celebration of Lauren McCullough’s life will be held on Saturday, February 22, 2014, at 2:00 pm at Laguna Creek High School in the gym.  It is located at 9050 Vicino Drive in Elk Grove, CA 95758.  All are welcome who would like to celebrate and remember Lauren.  The dress is casual and as Lauren would have wanted: Beachy/tropical attire.  In lieu of flowers, those so inclined may make a donation to one of Lauren’s selected charities:

This picture was taken in Hawaii in 2011, just days before the cancer was discovered in her leg.  This exemplifies how Lauren lived her life and enjoyed all the good things she was able to experience.


31 thoughts on “Final CaringBridge Entry

  1. As I sit here with tears…..I will never forget this dear sweet girl who inspires me to gain control of my life and live life to its fullest potential like she did….God has a new plan for his latest angel….never forgotten ..thanks for the memories

  2. Thank you for this final post. I feel the same way. I see that she fought till the end. She’s a real warrior and that is why god gave her wings. Our thoughts and prayers are now with her love ones. I hope they will have peace knowing that she is loved and that she will never be forgotten. I hope to be able to attend to her celebration of life but I am going thru chemotherapy and I don’t know if I’ll be able to attend. Please let me know if there’s a place I can send flowers and a note to her love ones.
    May the little Angel girl rest in peace.
    Much love and prayers.

  3. Thank you for sharing Lauren and her story. She is such an amazing inspiration and advocate for pediatric cancer research. Lauren made a difference in this world and in our lives. She will be missed!

  4. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us Lauren’s last hours. I keep thinking about the pretty slippers she posted and her trip to Vegas. I keep thinking about her period. I’m not related and didn’t even know her, but I ask “why”? So glad she made it to Kaiser/Roseville. And I will carry on for appreciation of life’s simplest moments in her honor. I know others will too..

  5. I’ve been following Lauren’s posts from day 1. Although, I’ve never met her personally, I feel like I know her. She is truly a fighter and an inspiration. It definitely makes you want to live every day to your fullest, because you never know what may lie ahead. I’ve never known someone as strong and full of life as she was. Her legacy will definitely live on! Rest east, sweet Lauren!

  6. I had just stared reading her blog a few months ago. What wonderful young woman, I know she made her parents proud. She fought a good fight and will be remembered by many people. She truly was very inspirational. I live in AZ so can not attend her celebration of life. I wish her family comfort and love.

  7. Thank you for sharing this information. I too am one of many that did not know Lauren personally, but feel that she somehow touched my life personally. I really don’t even know how I found her, as we live on opposite ends of the country, but I looked forward to her posts all the time. They were so filled with hope and inspiration!! She definitely lived life to the fullest. I will miss her and her words, and am finding it hard to believe that she is gone from this earth, in the physical form. I take comfort in knowing that she is now an angel and am sure will look after her loved ones. I wish them much peace in this difficult time, and may Lauren rest forever in eternal peace. God bless and thank you again!!

  8. I agree with the others, thank you for sharing Lauren’s final hours. I am thankful that she was comfortable in her final hours and that she was with those who loved her. She was such an impressive young lady, made a difference for many people, and offered so much encouragement to other’s while she dealt with a great problem. Lauren was/is a person who gave so much inspiration and truth. She can now carry on her great works in Heaven. I wish your family many prayers for strength and love. I am unable to attend on Saturday, but will send a donation to one of her favorite charities listed above and say a special prayer for you on that day

  9. As selfish as this sounds I needed this post for my closure. Thank you and Lauren’s family for allowing us into her final day. For those of us unable to attend the celebration of her life please share it with us.

  10. I only recently found her blog through Rebecca Melgoza and Edens joutney, but she had a profound impact on me. She gave so much inspiration to others, and a wonderful model on grace , composure and how to live life to the fullest. Im am saddened by her leaving this world, it does seem only the good die young. My deepest sympathies to her family. I most definitely will be making a donation to her favorite charities. Rest in peace sweet Angel.

  11. This was beautifully posted! Thank you for sharing. Praying that God’s peace will fill your souls and carry your hearts through this time.

  12. Thank you for sharing the details about Lauren’s final hours among us. All of us who have been blessed enough to know Lauren recognize that she was an incredibly strong yet sensitive person. She was more concerned with others than feeling the need to complain about her own pain. Lauren had achieved many goals in athletics, and yet in the midst of dealing with her cancer she achieved a goal that few could: she brought a community closer together and even at this point, she would not focus on her own condition, she spoke on radio and TV programs about the need to find a cure for child cancer. Lauren McCullough is a true hero, for she has inspired so many people. Thank you Lauren.

  13. Loving Lauren!! The fact that we didn’t ever wonder was a beautiful, selfless tribute from her to all of us. It showed amazing strength. Miss you terribly Lauren! To her family, you continued her plight and she would be proud of you xo

  14. God Bless All That were there To support Lauren.Such an inspiritation To The World.She Is An Angel.I was never Blessed to meet her in Person,but felt as if I did through her blog.My Prayers go out to her Family and Friends Denise

  15. What a legacy. She wanted to raise awareness of pediatric cancer ? Done. She wanted to inspire and motivate people doing cancer research ? Done. Lauren really kicked a dent in the universe on her way out. What she did here will echo in eternity. This isn’t the first blog I’ve seen by a kid with terminal cancer and every time one of them steps up and shares their experience, it hastens the day there is finally a cure for cancer. Pour on the steam, baby ! Fight on.

  16. I am so sorry for your loss. I did not know Lauren at all, but found her blog on the internet. My daughter is almost her age, and I cannot imagine what your family is going through. Lauren was a true warrior and she lived her life to the fullest. You are in my prayers.

  17. I sit here far away from Lauren’s home in tears after reading of her loss. I’ve never met her but feel like I’ve lost someone so close to me. I am ashamed when I think about some of the small struggles I have in my life and complain about. I wish I could give her life as she loved it so much, where as there are many who just don’t appreciate all the possibilities it offers. Yes there are some things which are out of our control. But she lived for every day given and tried to make the most of it no matter what. I will keep her memory with me forever. Her family I’m sure is very proud, and rightfully so. Just reading some of the post here its very clear that she has had more inspiration and has made more of an impact on people in her so short time than most people have in 70, 80, or even 91 years.

    THANK YOU LAUREN. I will NOT take the rest of my life for granted.

  18. I am a retired teacher who lives in Modesto. I have Cap Radio on all day so became aquatinted with Lauren from her visits with Beth. I was always touched, inspired and encouraged in my own life by Lauren and her observations, outlook and insights. I have been out of town for a few weeks and just heard about Lauren’s passing while listening to Beth this morning. Please accept my deepest condolences and know Lauren has touched so many with her words and her heart. She HAS left a legacy to all who were blessed to know her in any way.

  19. to co-opt an Obi Wan Kenobi quote. “Cancer did not win. Lauren became more powerful than cancer could possibly imagine.”

    She left a legacy and touched people’s lives. Even total strangers like me. Thank you Lauren for your courage, selflessness, and your undying spirit.


    my thoughts and prayer go out to her family and friends.

  20. Unfortunately, I only came to know Lauren through her NPR appearance. She was so real and aware and awake. Lauren’s openness and perspectives were inspirational. Of course, one had to admire her, but listening closely there were profound life lessons for all of us.

    My condolences to Lauren’s family and friends. You were blessed with a special girl.

  21. I don’t know Lauren. Lauren didn’t know me. I felt the need to let someone, anyone, know that her positivity is missed– even by this stranger. I had kept up with her story through the blog, Facebook, and Instagram and found myself missing her messages about a month ago. That’s when I read this final entry. I thought of Lauren again today and just wanted to extend my condolences. Lauren’s struggles and ever-positive attitude has taught me some lessons. When I find myself whining in my head, or even out loud, about how “tough” life is, I think of her and I instantly remember that I am blessed to just be alive- breathing- laughing and playing with my own children. Just wanted to express my sincere sympathy and utter gratitude.

  22. I heard Lauren’s interviews on Capitol Public Radio. She inspired me with her desire to be treated as a living person, not as a dying one. I know a beautiful 19 year old who has incurable melanoma and I tutor a 17 year old with brain tumors. Because of Lauren, I feel more empowered to treat them not as victims, but as fellow humans, who are collectively unable choose how we leave this world. She made a difference and for that her life, no matter what length, meant something good. May she play and rest in peace.

  23. I really love coming back to Lauren’s story, and even though this always makes me cry, I am amazed at her life and strength.

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