A touching tribute.
On January 20, 2016, 18-year-old Laura Hillier passed away from leukemia. She wasn’t able to finish her senior year of high school and didn’t receive a yearbook. So the students at her school took it upon themselves to adorn her coffin with messages of friendship, love, and memories, just like they would if signing a yearbook.
“Wherever you are, sing!” one friend wrote.
“You were Musical. You Were Artistic. You Were Understanding. You were my Bestest Friend,” her friend Alex wrote.
Hillier will be remembered for her lovely singing voice as well as her commitment to bringing attention to an issue that many Canadians face: hospital wait times for organ transplants. “Her passion, intellect, voice, creativity, talent, kindness, and love of life inspired friends, family, and acquaintances,” her obituary reads. “Her courageous battle against leukemia and her crusade to bring attention to the need for stem-cell transplant resources have inspired health care providers, bureaucrats, and complete strangers.”
Last July, a stem-cell donor was found for Hillier, but she wasn’t able to undergo the transplant because of a hospital bed shortage. In an interview with CTV, she said, “You always hear about the wait of finding a donor, and that’s the big hurdle.” Then she was placed on a waiting list and didn’t receive her transplant until August. Her cancer returned in November, and she passed away shortly thereafter. Posting a photo of her coffin on Imgur, “unbrella” wrote, “a big part of why she died was due to long wait times for transplant patients.”
To honor Hillier’s wishes, her family is working with the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation to raise funds that will be directed toward initiatives to improve the stem-cell transplant situation in Ontario.