Video courtesy of WNDU-TV, The Elkhart Truth's reporting partners.
ELKHART — Monday was an emotional day as family, friends, classmates, coaches and supporters mourned the death and remembered the life of Sarah Crane after she died on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Sarah was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in July. In September, a scan revealed that the aggressive cancer had spread to other organs. Sarah remained hopeful and continued with treatments despite being told that the cancer was “inoperable, untreatable and terminal.”
More than 10,000 people followed her story via the #SARAHSTRONG Facebook group, where family members and friends posted updates on Sarah's condition and fundraising efforts.
But if you talk to the people who knew Sarah, it's little surprise that she faced a terminal diagnosis with courage, positivity and determination.
Her oldest sister, Kylee, cherishes her memories of Sarah and believes those who didn't get to meet Sarah were missing out.
“I feel sorry for people who didn't know the healthy (Sarah), just the sick one. (Her) spirit was still the same, but they only got a glimpse of (her),” Kylee wrote in a blog post Monday morning. “The Sarah whose smile could light up a whole room in a second. The Sarah who could make anyone laugh.”
Amy Coats, a family friend who lives in Indianapolis, met Sarah only once but felt a strong connection to her. Coats took a family portrait of the Cranes and said Sarah was not feeling well that day, but she radiated positive energy.
“Every time I would talk to her sister, Kylee, she would say that even when Sarah was just feeling miserable and moaning in pain, she would make some snarky comment out of the middle of all of it, and it seems like even in misery, she just wanted everybody to be happy,” said Coats, who started the #SARAHSTRONG Facebook page.
Sarah was a sophomore at Elkhart Memorial High School, where she ran track, cross country and performed in the color guard and dance.
“Thinking about how much she ran when she was fighting the disease, and at that point, nobody knew it, that's just amazing to think that somebody has that kind of physical strength,” said Adam Homo, who coached Sarah in track and cross country.
For Homo, Sarah embodied hope.
“I think she had an ability to innately mobilize people, and she was able to touch other peoples' lives,” he said. “She was just an inspirational and amazing young lady.”
Sarah was known as being eclectic, radiant, humble and determined.
“Sarah was not about pity or feeling sorry for herself,” Elkhart Memorial principal Mark Tobolski said. “She was about being strong.”
“Sometimes we tend to let go of that image and that spirit when someone passes, and that's not what Sarah was about,” he added. “That's a message I want to send to people, that you have to keep moving to be strong because that's what Sarah would have wanted.”
Tobolski said Monday had been an emotional day for students. The school made counselors available to students who are grieving after Sarah's death.
According to Sarah's obituary, family and close friends may pay their respects at a visitation service from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13, at Hartzler-Gutermuth-Inman Funeral Home, and at a funeral service at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at California Road Missionary Church.