Laura A. Sypek, affectionately called "Loopy" by her family, was a very vibrant and courageous 6th grade student when neuroblastoma, a solid tumor childhood cancer, took her life on June 12, 2006, at 11 years of age. Laura was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma (Stage III n-myc amplified) in 1997 at age 2, just before celebrating her 3rd birthday. She underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants. Laura enjoyed five cancer free years until she relapsed in November, 2002, at the age of 8 with Stage IV neuroblastoma. She again endured more surgery, chemotherapy and antibody therapy. She was cancer free again for sixteen months when she relapsed in October, 2004.
Laura was a cherished daughter, granddaughter, goddaughter, niece, cousin and friend to all those who knew her and loved her. She was admired by students and teachers alike at the local schools she attended as well as the health care professionals who cared for her. Like a butterfly, Laura shared her beauty with all for the short time she was with us and her inspiring spirit lives on in the town of West Springfield, Massachusetts. She enjoyed every opportunity to climb the rock wall at amusement parks, so members of the West Springfield Police Department donated a Purple Rock Climbing Wall to the West Springfield Middle School in memory of Laura. Also at the Middle School is a beautiful memorial butterfly garden filled with butterfly bushes and individual stepping stones that were personally created and decorated by Laura's friends. A very purple butterfly bench adorns this wonderful tribute to her.
Laura also loved to read and enjoyed participating in activities at the local library. To honor her spirit and her love of reading, her family created a kid-sized oasis of purple, pink and lime green in the West Springfield Public Library. Named Laura’s Loft, the space contains comfortable moon chairs for browsing and a wooden bookcase filled with a wonderful collection of Laura’s favorite books, movies and CD's that reflect who she was … her love of animals, baking, helping mom in the kitchen preparing meals and snacks, “Chicken Soup” stories, poetry (including Shel Silverstein’s series), I Spy books, country and pop music. Her family will continue to add books to this collection to provide a fresh assortment of titles for ages 7-18 to support the Ready, Set, Read fundraising program.
Throughout her young life, Laura demonstrated strength, courage and compassion, always thinking of others before herself. She never wanted to be treated special … she just wanted to be a kid. Laura would spend an entire day at the clinic receiving chemotherapy and then come home, suit up and play softball with her team or go snow sledding with her brother, cousins and friends. Laura was an inspiration to everyone she met. She had a smile that “lit up a room”. No matter how badly she may have felt, she always seemed inspired to share her radiant smile and draw rainbows and butterflies … happy things. She always had a positive attitude, believing that nothing was impossible.
During the last two and most difficult weeks of her life, Laura’s enduring spirit and will to live never wavered, and that’s what hurts the most. Although her little body gave up, she never did. Laura loved to be with her family and friends, her dog, Buddy and her rabbit, Whiskers. She loved to bake, cook, read, make crafts, play softball, watch American Idol and Rachel Ray, and just have fun. She was very active raising money for cancer research. She held many lemonade stands which raised thousands of dollars to help fund pediatric cancer research. Soupy for Loopy Foundation exists to continue Laura’s quest to find a cure for neuroblastoma. Laura will forever be our hero and forever in our hearts. We invite you to view the photo album on this website. There is a wonderful collection of photographs with stories that capture Laura’s life, her radiant smile and her zest for living life to the fullest.
The Family of Laura A. Sypek
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