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Laura Stiles loved being with her family and friends both at home and in school in Morris County, New Jersey. Laura was known for her flair for drawing and often would sketch little figures and vignettes in a kind of running commentary on daily life. Those who knew her were quietly astounded by her insight and her keen powers of observation. Laura was fond of all things Japanese and Hello Kitty was her trademark. She loved animals and enjoyed the family menagerie of two dogs and two cats with her cat Pepper being especially beloved.
Laura was 10-years-old, a 4th grader, when in April 2005 she suddenly developed perplexing symptoms including extreme discomfort walking, complete loss of appetite and discoloration under the skin around her eyes. The normal tranquility of our lives and the expectations we had for continued good health were shattered forever when, within a matter of a few days, the devastating diagnosis of stage IV high risk neuroblastoma was made.
Laura’s neuroblastoma did not respond well to treatment and she never achieved a remission or NED status despite receiving all the treatments that the specialists had available at that time. Through lengthy hospitalizations, unpleasant side effects, and sometimes very painful treatments, she enjoyed life back at school when she could, and carried on without complaint when she couldn’t - an example of grace under pressure to all who knew her. Though Laura’s neuroblastoma was reduced by the initial strong treatment program, the disease began to advance aggressively again. One treatment after another was attempted without driving it back. Eventually all the doors were closing around us as Laura’s disease had become very widespread and her bone marrow could not even tolerate oral chemotherapy.
In December 2006, just a week after Laura participated in the holiday concert at her school, the neuroblastoma made its final swift advance taking Laura’s life after only a few days of final illness. Laura was laid to rest in her Japanese kimono and is buried near the shade of sugar maple trees in a peaceful cemetery not far from places where she once so happily played. “..The happy highways where I went and cannot come again.” -A.E.Housman
Laura's family and friends remain crushed and can only wonder forever what a person possessed with so many fine attributes would have been able to do in the world one day. Laura is deeply missed. Her gentle spirit will always be with us.
Readers are invited to learn more details of Laura’s story at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/laurastiles
Laura Stiles (October 27, 1994- December 22, 2006)
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