Although Michelle died from breast cancer, she was not defined by the disease.
There are common statistics about Michelle that can be applied to each of us or someone close to us...the year she was born, birth order, parents' names, schools attended, activities, hobbies, etc. In between those facts, is the essence of Michelle Watson. She was close to her family, especially her parents. She created the common ground between her liberal arts-minded sister and her mechanical engineer-minded brother. She made lifelong friends within minutes of meeting individuals. Her friendships were so deep that still more than 10 years after her death, friends still weep at the thought of her gone. She had a deep understanding of her strengths and weaknesses and challenged herself to change her weaknesses into strengths. These traits could be seen during the countless training hours she spent in the pool. Through her faith and determination, she always pushed herself to be a better person.
Michelle had a strong spirit that guided her with compassion, patience and even a touch of stubbornness. Michelle was a gentle and kind person but when she dug in her heels, she was quite a force. When diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 23, her personality did not allow her to ask "Why me?" but instead caused her to reflect "Why not me?" Michelle was the person her oncologist sought out to talk to newly diagnosed patients, many who were years older than Michelle. It was her vibrant attitude toward life, not the life-threatening disease, that exuded from Michelle. She had an excitement for life without being reckless. She moved forward even when cancer treatments and set-backs tried to shut her down.
Cancer never beat Michelle's will, it just took over her physical body. In fact, we believe that instead of letting cancer take over, Michelle decided to move on to another journey.
The 10-year anniversary of Michelle's passing was July 23rd, 2010. Click here to read our tribute to Michelle and her dying wish.