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Apr. 10, 2015

TOPIC: Featured News

Lauren Hill Dies at 19 after Battle with Brain Cancer, DIPG

Posted by Christina Jensen

This article was originally published by USA TODAY Sports

Lauren Hill touched a nation with her desire to play for Mount St. Joseph’s women’s basketball team, even as she battled an inoperable brain tumor.

Her resolve, spirit and courage were celebrated Nov. 2 when she realized her dream at Xavier University’s Cintas Center. Cheered on by a sold-out crowd of 10,250 and a television audience, Hill scored the first and last basket of the Mount’s 66-55 victory over Hiram College.

She passed away Friday at the age of 19.

Mount St. Joseph’s will hold a celebration and prayer service on its campus to honor her.

“We are forever grateful to have had Lauren grace our campus with her smile and determined spirit,” said Mount St. Joe president Tony Aretz.

Lauren Hill before DIPG

Hill death was acknowledged by several celebrities, including LeBron James, who wrote a series of tweets.

The Indiana native said at the game her goal was is to find a cure for cancer. Hill was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma shortly after her 18th birthday. The rare form of brain cancer typically affects young children ages 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.

“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.”

An announced $40,000 was raised the day of the game for The Cure Starts Now Foundation and pediatric cancer research. Overall, her nonprofit foundation has helped to raise more than $1.5 million for cancer research.

“Through Lauren’s fundraising and advocacy efforts, she not only became a spotlight on the lack of funding for cancer research, but she most certainly has become a beacon guiding researchers for years to come,” The Cure Starts Now co-founder Brooke Desserich said.

Dr. Mariko DeWire, Lauren’s physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said fundraising has allowed doctors to study DIPG more closely in the last five years. The condition is incurable.

DeWire explained what Hill endured physically at the basketball game – that loud noises affected her balance and bright lights bothered her. The forward wore sunglasses and headphones on the bench and earplugs throughout. None of it stopped her from having a memorable day in the short time she played, or gracefully accepting a halftime award from legendary Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt.

“As you can see, Lauren is strong. She was going to rock it, and she did,” Dr. DeWine said. “She did more than rock it.”

The NCAA granted an exemption for the game to be played ahead of schedule so she could participate. It was an emotional day for Lions coach Dan Benjamin, who said Hill committed to the Mount in October of 2013 and told the staff 49 days later that she had the tumor.

Coach and player bonded instantly, and then the team followed suit.

“The two biggest thing we wanted to accomplish is team and team chemistry, and Lauren helped us do that. But along the way she’s made a lot of our girls become very mature, which is apparent. That’s what you always want to do. You want your kids to understand what life’s about,” Benjamin said.

“And here instead of me teaching them, it was Lauren teaching them. She’s made a great impact on these young ladies. I think they’re going to remember this life lesson forever and hopefully they carry it out and help her carry the mission in their own lives.”

The #Layup4Lauren initiative benefitting The Cure Starts Now was also a hit. Challenges were issued for people to spin five times and attempt a layup with their non-dominant hands so they knew what it felt like for Lauren to play. Bengals players Andrew Whitworth and Andy Dalton were among the first to take the challenge; San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon and Denver Nuggets guard Randy Foye also took part.

Mount St. Joseph’s Lauren Hill, left, smiles at Pat Summitt after receiving the Pat Summitt Award during halftime of her first game against Hiram University on Nov. 2, 2014

Hill sat with her mother, Lisa, and father, Brent, in the Nov. 2 post-game press conference at Xavier and admitted she didn’t know how many people she had touched. Lisa Hill felt awestruck.

“I’m not even sure how all of this happened,” Lisa Hill said. “It is absolutely amazing to see Lauren chase after her dream of playing basketball and become a voice for DIPG, and just taking her job really seriously and giving that 110 percent. I don’t know that either one of us could be any prouder of her. And we love her so much.”

Said Brent Hill: “I think today I’m probably the proudest father on the earth. Not that I haven’t always been, but it’s just that much stronger. In just the past couple weeks it’s been amazing with all the support from everybody around the country. And we just hope and pray that we can continue this journey and help these kids coming down the road, because we’ve got to stop it.”

Lauren, who has a brother, Nate, and sister, Erin, called her college debut “amazing.” It was, she said, the best day she’d ever had.

But it wasn’t her only day in collegiate books. She made a right-handed lay-up in the Mount’s Nov. 21 game against Bethany. Hill played in four games and scored 10 points before her condition forced her to stop playing.

She was honored at local sporting events, from a University of Cincinnati women’s basketball game to a Cincinnati Cyclones outing, and was featured on a Wheaties box and a NBA Live 15 cover. She also struck up a friendship with Bengals player Devon Still, whose young daughter, Leah, is battling cancer. Lauren surprised the defensive tackle with a signed jersey Nov. 20.

Hill was selected to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference first-team after the season.

“This award is being presented to Lauren in recognition of her courage and outstanding leadership,” HCAC Commissioner, Chris Ragsdale said. “Lauren has been a tremendous inspiration and role model for all student-athletes across the country. She has shown through her leadership and dedication how one individual can truly make a difference.”

One Response to “Lauren Hill Dies at 19 after Battle with Brain Cancer, DIPG”

  1. Arif Ahmed says:

    Thanks to lauren hill and her family. Because of her strong effort to raise awareness to worldwide all these children viciously robbed by this monster call dipg has got voice now. If the US government took care of its children they would have spent a lot of money and expertise to find proper cure for this horrible monster who robbed so many parents their beloved child. Nothing will bring their child back. Because its only three hundred children every year US gov didn’t care because it’s small in numbers. Same as pharmaceutical company didn’t see any massive profit from it that’s why they didn’t in investing any money for research for last fifty years. If the US government had spent billions of dollars forty years ago they would have found cure at least ten years ago because of lack of funds all the researcher in this field shying away to find a proper cure for this vicious child killer. So US shamelessly failed all these parents who lost their loved ones simply because their government didn’t give damn about children because they have no voice or vote. Because they small in number because they are innocent government just dumped them to face death sentence by this ferocious beast dipg. For this criminal negligence towards their children all past seven administration should put on trial to let all the children killed by this monster dipg. Lauren hill is doing the jobs to give all these innocent children a voice which their government s supposed to do. Shame on them if they had minimum humanity in their hearts they would never did this to their children to getting killed by this beast dipg. Lauren hill and other people who families who lost their loved one raising money and awareness about this child killer dipg deserve better acknowledgement to try to save other families children who will face this now and the future. If US government spend trillions of dollars on military research projects but they haven’t got even one billion to invest in research to find cure for this child killer dipg. If all influential people in last seven administration children got killed by this monster then situation would have been different long time ago. All these children died last ten years would have been saved and people like lauren hill would not need to this campaign to raise awareness and funds for vital research to find a proper cure for this monster dipg. All the parents who has small children and future parents should raise their voice against their respective government to stop this injustice to their children and forced strong public opinion to invest very big amount money to find proper quick cure for this monster dipg otherwise every child is in mortal danger because you simply don’t know when and where this beast will strike. You will will lose your precious child so quickly by this beast and have to live your rest of the life with pain and suffering in unimaginable scale like me. I am telling from my own experience. So be careful all the parents. Wake up now before its too late. Arif Ahmed.