mlwwedding-michelleMichelle Watson
Although Michelle died of breast cancer,
she was not defined by the disease.
"If there is any message I could pass on it would be to take today's opportunities and live your dreams.  I know sometimes it's hard not to be stressed out by life and bogged with minor problems.  Try to remember what matters most to your heart and be thankful for what you do have."
Michelle Watson

Michelle Watson was in her early twenties and she had a plan.  She attended Colorado State University where she was on the swim team.  Michelle was very health-minded and she worked hard to reach her goals.  She was close to her family, especially her parents.  She created the common ground between her liberal arts-minded sister and her mechanical engineer-minded brother.  She made lifelong friends within minutes of meeting individuals.  Her friendships were so deep that still more than 10 years after her death, friends still weep at the thought of her gone.  She had a deep understanding of her strengths and weaknesses and challenged herself to change her weaknesses into strengths.  These traits could be seen during the countless training hours she spent in the pool.  Through her faith and determination, she always pushed herself to be a better person.

Michelle had a strong spirit that guided her with compassion, patience and even a touch of stubbornness.  Michelle was a gentle and kind person but when she dug in her heels, she was quite a force.  When diagnosed with breast cancer and the age of 23 while applying for the Peace Corps, her personality did not allow her to ask "Why me?" but instead caused her to reflect "Why not me?"  Michelle was the person her oncologist sought out to talk to newly diagnosed patients, many who were years older than Michelle.  It was her vibrant attitude toward life, not the life-threatening disease, that exuded from Michelle.  She had an excitement for life without being reckless.  She moved forward even when cancer treatments and set-backs tried to shut her down.  Instead of focusing only on herself during this challenge, she focused on how her experience could help others and it was her dying wish that her family start a breast cancer resource center in the Temecula area where women could go for support and a listening ear.  Click here to learn more about Michelle's Place.

    "The statement most said to me is 'You can't have cancer.'  True I do not fit one statistic or risk factor.  I am young, a vegetarian, worked out 5x a week, and have no family history.  Cancer doesn't discriminate over age, sex, race, or social position.  Like myself, who went misdiagnosed for over 2 years and had seen 4 doctors, most patients I encountered were misdiagnosed for at least 6 months.  Unfortunately people do not fit into neat boxes that science would like them to.  Doctors are merely people who are experts in Western Medicine and do their best with what they are taught.  I hope not to scare you about cancer, or any other illness, but for you to be aware.  If you feel certain something needs to checked-be persistent; insist on a biopsy. Better yet go to a well known expert in the field. I can't tell you why I had cancer. Life can throw unplanned detours that can not be avoided.  All I know is the choice I did have was how I was going to handle the situation."
    Michelle Watson

Cancer never beat Michelle's will, it just took over her physical body.  In fact, we believe that instead of letting cancer take over, Michelle decided to move on to another journey.

Read the Memorial Tribute from Michelle's family Pastor

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