Lauren Fitzgerald was a life-long resident of Berks County, PA. Having attended Wyomissing area schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, Lauren excelled academically as a Latin scholar in high school, traveling with her classmates to Italy and England during freshman and sophomore years. She was inducted into the National Honor Society in 2003 and kept busy in student council, the morning announcement program, stage crew, and field hockey.
At peak as a field hockey co-captain during her senior year, Lauren had excelled at the sport from 7-12th grade participating in camps at Syracuse University and University of Maryland. After she graduated from high school with honors in 2003, Lauren enrolled at Drexel University in Philadelphia to study interior design, intending to pursue her interest and passion. Once in Philadelphia – Lauren thrived and fell in love with urban living. She joined an academic service sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, and rowed for the university crew team.
But in May 2004, just a college freshman, Lauren was diagnosed with a primary brain tumor – a stage 3 anaplastic oligodendroglioma. She underwent 2 surgeries that summer followed by chemotherapy treatments at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Lauren remained dedicated to her continuing education, returning to Drexel for the fall 2004 semester, then having to take a leave of absence for the winter term to focus on fighting her prognosis. In May 2005, the tumor grew back aggressively. A scheduled 3rd surgery at Duke University Hospital was scheduled and later cancelled.
On July 18, 2005, at age 20, Lauren passed away at Duke after lapsing into a coma.
Throughout her 14 month ordeal, Lauren maintained her dignity, her love of life, and her high spirits. She refused to let her diagnosis interfere with her life, choosing instead to live by a favorite quote from American poet Maya Angelou: “I may not be able to change what happens to me. I refuse to be reduced by it.”
Even death could not diminish her love of life. Five people received organs that Lauren chose to donate – her heart, lungs, liver and kidneys were used to serve those in need. Her legacy, love and generosity will live forever.
Lauren is survived by sisters, Liz Cairo-Koenig and Hannah Link Fitzgerald, her mother, Mary Ann Cairo, her father, Michael Fitzgerald, stepmother Sorita Averill-Fitzgerald, and a nephew and niece.