Remembering Meredith

Written by: Elyse Sunshine, Board Member, DCMF

Meredith collage 3

On February 24, 2014, our dear friend Meredith Legg Stapleton passed away at the age of 26 from ocular melanoma (OM).  We met Meredith when she kindly donated her time to travel from South Carolina to Toronto to film Dear 16 Year Old Me.  The minute we met Meredith, we knew we were in the presence of someone very special.  With her gorgeous smile, sparkling eyes and charming Southern accent, Meredith stole our hearts.

This Hall of Fame basketball player was a beloved and respected figure wherever she lived but particularly, in her University town of Aiken, South Carolina.  She held many records including all- time leader in scoring and sinking the most three-pointers in one game career  – just to name a few. In addition to her success on the court, Meredith achieved academic and career success and was popular with her classmates and colleagues.

Diagnosed with OM when she was just 22, Meredith was determined not to let this serious illness stop her from living life to the fullest and chose to use her illness to help raise awareness. When she participated in the filming of Dear 16 Year Old Me in 2011, her OM had spread to her liver, but you would never have known it from her energy and enthusiasm.  She was so excited to be part of this project and like us, never dreamed of the worldwide attention it would garner.  Meredith shone in the video.  Numerous people reached out to her to express their admiration. Many others told her that she had motivated them to get checked and their lives had been saved through early diagnosis and successful treatment.  As in her everyday life, Meredith was an inspiration to countless young people – showing fierce determination, zest for life and quiet courage and dignity.

To know Meredith was to know a whole community of people who loved her.  We were so fortunate through Meredith to get to know her incredible parents, siblings and friends. It was not surprising that Meredith was raised by and surrounded herself with people who were as genuine, kind and lovely as she was.

In October 2012, Meredith married her high school sweetheart, Christopher Stapleton – a truly wonderful man.   Again, Meredith took this opportunity to raise awareness, appearing in the TLC show “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta” and speaking bravely about her melanoma with her mom, sister and best girlfriends by her side.  Meredith’s wedding was on a lovely fall day, befitting this stunning bride. It was a privilege to all those present to watch these two young people, so obviously in love, exchange their wedding vows.

Enjoying newlywed life, Meredith tackled her cancer bravely – participating without complaint in any available treatment that her tireless parents and healthcare providers could track down for her. When all treatment options were sadly exhausted, Meredith faced this final journey with the same spirit that she had lived her whole life.

Surrounded by those who loved her, Meredith passed away on February 24, 2014, just a few days before her 27th birthday.  Our thoughts are with her family – her beloved husband Christopher, her devoted parents Basil and Robin, her sister and brother-in-law, Lyndsi and Rick, her brother Trey and her darling nephew and nieces, in addition to her countless friends and admirers.

We love you Meredith and you will always be in our hearts and thoughts.

Meredith collage 4

 

13 Responses

  1. Donna

    My husband lost the battle 2 months ago at the age of 63. Melanoma sucks! As heartbroken as I am, I cannot help but to feel worse for your family and your husband as your beautiful life was cut much shorter than his. He had children and grandchildren… You fought so bravely… you left your mark in history… your death was not in vain… We must believe there is a higher power who knows His plan…

    February 27, 2014 at 02:20

  2. Naomi Beamer

    What a lovely tribute to a wonderful person. She will be sorely missed but now Heaven has another angel to shine down on us.

    I have lost several family members as well as friends to this horrible disease.

    With amazing foundations such as the DCMF the world is that much closer to a cure.

    Thank you.

    February 27, 2014 at 16:46

  3. Elyse, I just wanted to thank you for the beautiful piece you wrote on Meredith. I was also one of the lucky ones who personally knew Meredith. I got to know her at work and am so thankful for the time I did get to know her and become her friend. She was a rare gem indeed. Thank you again. Just walking into our buidling is hard some days. I walked into the kitchen where she and I used to talk and just cried. God bless the Legg and Stapleton families, how hard it must be for them. Yes, I know she is pain free, I know she is healed and finally, that she is walking the streets of gold (or shooting hoops of gold as I told someone)but it doesn’t make missing her any easier in spite of knowing all these things. Yes, we love her and she will ALWAYS be in our hearts.

    March 12, 2014 at 18:10

  4. Christy

    What a wonderfully touching tribute to honor and remember a truly remarkable young lady who was just as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. I believe God took Meredith home much too early, but that is God’s plan, one that I shouldn’t question. I speculate he took her home in time for March madness so that she could coach the angel team up there. We are truly privileged to have ever known her…we met her through her parents, Basil and Robin, who are dear friends who have become family. May God bless the Legg and Stapleton families–especially her mom, dad, brother, sister, and husband, Christopher. Prayers and love for them all.

    March 14, 2014 at 13:04

  5. Vicki

    I just now watched beautiful Meredith choose her wedding gown on “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta” and was so moved by this young lady that I immediately took to the Internet to check on her progress. I am shocked and sadened to see that she lost her battle with OM. Another promising young life cut way too short by cancer. My husband has melanoma and I know that every day with him is a gift. Thank you for sharing Meredith and her story with the world; it couldn’t have been easy for you. God bless Meredith and all those who loved her:)

    December 20, 2015 at 18:22

  6. Lorna Monks

    I live in England, and I have just watched the episode of ‘Say Yes To The Dress Atlanta’ where Meredith chose her wedding dress. I wanted to check on her progress but am so very sorry to read that she passed away two years ago now. Cancer is a cruel indiscriminate disease, and it is awful that a young vibrant woman with her whole life ahead of her was struck down by it.
    Her husband and family should feel rightly proud of her courage and positivity, she was a lovely young lady.

    April 11, 2016 at 12:19

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  8. Kim Donaldson

    I am not sure if the family will see this, but I just lost my husband (age 47) to Ocular Melanoma that had metastasized to his liver. I was watching Say Yes To The Dress this morning (1/13/18) and saw Meredith’s story. I just had to find out what happened to her. I truly had hoped she had beaten this awful disease and was so heartbroken to learn that she had passed away. I am so glad she did get her dream wedding in that beautiful dress. She definitely left her mark by bringing attention to this disease. Progress in being made every day towards a cure. I will remember Meredith, even though I have never met her.

    Kim Donaldson
    Alpharetta, GA

    January 23, 2018 at 14:02

    • elyse

      Hi Kim – We are so very sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking the time to comment and we sent your thoughtful words to Meredith’s parents. We know they will be very touched by you thinking of Meredith. Our thoughts are with your family as well.

      January 23, 2018 at 21:26

  9. Jodie

    I am truly overwhelmed by Meredith’s journey. My friend’s daughter was watching Saying Yes to the Dress yesterday, they told me to watch it. I went blind January 11, 2018. I too have OM. I lost my eye February 8, 2018 as my tumor was massive, but isolated. I hope this has saved my life or extends it as long as it can! My diagnoses was not what one wants to hear, there is no cure so it’s a “ sit and wait” until there is something to treat. Just because my eye is gone my cancer isn’t gone? It can come back at any time. I am very lucky. But, those cancer cells would love to attack my liver and kill me! It’s not over. So, I fight every day.

    I have not shared my diagnoses with many because I’m scared. And, people don’t really know how to process the information. Because I don’t want sympathy! I want action and AWARNESS! I want every person I come in contact with to get dilated! I tell perfect strangers to get checked? But, I haven’t shared on my social media? The people I’ve know for years!? I don’t want people to think I want attention.

    I’m writing you because Meredith’s story has taught me that I need to be brave. I don’t want anyone else to go undetected, as I did. I hesitate. Perhaps, if I post on my social media, if people know someone they will at least get their eyes checked? I know people move on with life, as I live the life of cancer daily. Maybe reading her story will shake them long enough to get a base line?

    As I sit here not able to control my tears, I know that this story is my sign to do something! At least I will know all of this isn’t for nothing?

    If cancer has taught me nothing else, it has shown me that I am so much stronger than I thought. I can not control others. To live life to the fullest. Take time to SEE everything, even the little things. And don’t waste life.

    Thank you for sharing her with us. ❤️ Thank you Meredith! ❤️ I do wish your daughter had had more time. I’m so sorry she has gone.

    June 2, 2018 at 14:20

    • elyse DCMF

      Thank you for your beautiful comment. We are so sorry you are also dealing with OM. Thank foto for sharing with us. We have sent your message to Meredith’s family and know it means a lot to them.

      June 2, 2018 at 15:50

  10. Kathleen Cousins

    WOW! i just watched an early broadcast of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta — I am so happy that Meredith’s amazing life story is still available online. I searched the internet after the program to check on Meredith’s progress and have cried and cried reading all of the articles about Meredith, Meredith’s family, friends, etc. It was amazing to find ALL of the background details about Meredith’s success in life from beginning to the present …today! Meredith is living on for many to discover her via social media. I would not have guessed that she was a successful basketball player and coach… I would keep going if my computer was not displaying 7% power remaining. My thoughts and prayers for Meredith, her family and friends have moved to the top of my daily prayer list — I am so amazed — and sure that this story should live on and on as a lesson for all of us who miraculously find it experience its incredible impact.

    June 27, 2018 at 12:40

  11. Debra Taylor

    I live in London, England and like a lot of people that have messaged you before I am watching Say Yes to the dress this Sunday morning 26th August 2018 – Before the end of the programme I googled Meredith and am continuing to watch her find her dress with tears in my eyes. I have a daughter and I will give her an extra hug and remember your beautiful brave daughter.

    August 26, 2018 at 08:05

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