Written by: Elyse Sunshine, Board Member, DCMF
February 24, 2014: Your mom calls with the terrible news. There are tears. There are no words.
March 2014: We read and re-read the beautiful articles written about you and all of your accomplishments. We honour what would have been your 27th birthday.
April 2014: We obsessively read your old emails and Facebook messages and smile at your enthusiasm and zest for life. We think of all of the people you inspired with your bravery and willingness to share your melanoma journey.
May 2014: We honour you in a slideshow at our fundraiser event for melanoma awareness month. We all fall silent as your smiling face fills the screen knowing that no pictures can ever capture how beautiful you truly were.
June 2014: We re-watch your episode of Say Yes to the Dress. We smile listening to your Southern accent and seeing the sparkle in your eyes as you find your gown.
July 2014: We work on a website for you, trying to include all of the amazing tributes written about you – there are so many.
August 2014: We take the ALS ice bucket challenge and in addition to donating to
ALS, we give money to the DCMF and other melanoma charities in your name.
September 2014: We create business cards to inform others about you and your website and to keep your legacy going. When they arrive, seeing your beaming smile when we open the package is like a gift.
November 2014: We are thrilled that your parents come to Toronto but know you should be here too – laughing as we peer down the depths of the glass floor of the CN tower. We brave the cold in Niagara Falls and think of you as we take in the magnificence of this world wonder.
December 2014 – We turn our thoughts to your family at Christmas and are thankful for your wonderful nieces and nephew that make your parents and siblings smile.
January 2015 – We see in the new year. We whisper a toast to you and to the others who are no longer with us.
February 24, 2015 – We cannot believe the year has passed. We think of you with love. We think of your parents, siblings, family and friends and many admirers. The world remains a sadder place without you but your legacy is strong. You will never be forgotten.
Written by: Elyse Sunshine, Board Member, DCMF
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.