Christal Ann Higgins(1985 - 2014)

Christal Ann Higgins, 28, passed away Monday, April 7, 2014, at a local hospice after a courageous two-year fight with clear cell renal cell carcinoma, leaving many broken-hearted. Funeral: 1 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church. Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park. Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Greenwood. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Kidney Cancer Research Group, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Box 4486, Houston, Texas 77210-4486. Make checks payable to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Please include a note stating that the donation is in memory of Christal Higgins and that the whole donation is to be used for kidney cancer research and not for administrative or overhead costs. "Christal took on kidney cancer with the same tenacity that she tackled life," said her Aunt Sheri. "It won the hearts of anyone who had the privilege to know her." As a young girl, Christal was told by her Great-Aunt Jo she looked like the Princess of Monaco. The petite young woman, who so resembled Grace Kelly, battled the disease with humor, grace and dignity. Her motto was "Be courageous." Christal "Scooter" was born Oct. 2, 1985, in Stephenville, the older of two daughters born to Bennie Higgins and Michelle Carlson. She was given the nickname "Scooter" by her father when she was a baby because she would scoot across the floor in her diaper, not to be deterred from getting to where she wanted to go. After attending Stephenville High, Christal graduated from the University of North Texas in 2009 with a bachelor of arts in communications studies and a minor in counseling. Christal's original major was radio, television and film until an instructor told her she had too much personality. Christal was very animated, probably due to her time in school theater. In 2003, she was voted "Theater Sweetheart" at Stephenville High, and had won UIL (University Interscholastic League) for a pantomime she performed with her friend, Heather Toves. While in college, she joined Alpha Delta Pi (ADPi) sorority and served as director of standards and ethics for a semester. Being part of ADPi was a changing point in her college career. At the time Christal decided to pledge, her grades were so dismal that her Uncle Sean agreed to pay dues as long as she maintained a 3.5 GPA. From this point on she made the Dean's List each semester until her graduation. In 2009, she earned the Ted Colson Award of Excellence in performance studies. Recently, one of her ADPi sisters told how Christal was the one to go to if you needed help in your classes. The past three years Christal worked as a human resource coordinator at Weir SPM in Fort Worth. Despite grappling with the effects of chemo, radiation and exhaustion, Christal would queue up Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" while getting ready to go to work. When she lost most of her chestnut locks to radiation treatments, she proudly sported a mohawk, as did many of her co-workers. Christal worked with an amazing group of co-workers who supported her and showered her with understanding and love. Weir is where Christal met the love of her life, Carson So. Little defeated Scooter for long. She loved dressing up and going out with her friends to clubs, parties and concerts. Christal's best friend from birth was her sister, Jordan. They shared a passion for the theater, Disney movies, the Mavericks and Aerosmith (seven concerts at last count). Jordan would buy their Aerosmith tickets often as a birthday gift to her sister, anything where they could be together. When she was invited to present the game ball as a representative of Texas Oncology for the Mavericks' Dec. 3, 2013, game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Jordan was by her side. But their greatest love was travel. Last year, Christal traveled to Poland to meet up with Jordan, and the pair then ventured off through England, France, Germany and Disneyland in Paris. It was the adventure of a lifetime. Christal made lifetime friendships with a smile that lit her eyes up and a concern for other people's happiness, she was hard to resist. Jessica, her childhood friend, tells that each time Christal bragged about Jessica being in law school, Jessica's LSAT scores would increase. On Christal's first day at college, she saw a young man sitting on a bench by himself and decided he would be her friend. She sat down next to Matthew Weatherford and from that day on, they were the best of friends. He took her to her first Lady Gaga concert. Heather, her friend from grade school, and her sisters donated to Locks of Love on behalf of Christal. Her list of friends that would come at a moment's notice would fill this page up -- she was a truly amazing friend. This was her gift to be happy for others, encouraging and considerate no matter what she herself was dealing with. In terms of her illness, her Uncle Sean made sure that she always had someone waiting for her after her radiation treatments. Her sister Jordan was always there for moral support, singing "You've got a friend" from "Toy Story" to keep her spirits up, or joining her on trips across the country in search of alternative treatments. Carson would hide little notes, telling her how wonderful she was. Aunt Sheri would make her home-cooked meals, always assuring her she would win this fight. And when it came to hospital stays, they all rotated, sometimes fighting over who got to stay. The list of people who would send emails, cards or prayers was endless. Christal battled CCRCC, which comprises about 65 percent of kidney cancers found. It was estimated she had developed this disease around the age of 16 and was diagnosed when she developed a brain metastasis at the age of 26. Christal found there was not much known about kidney cancer, which frustrated her and her sister, Jordan. They both wanted to raise awareness and help others who will have to battle this disease in the future. Please help support research on kidney cancer to give others an opportunity for a cure, if not a long progression-free life. Recognition and gratitude to those who kept Christal's spirits up and cared for her during very difficult times: Monty (her Boston Terrier and longtime companion); Jessica McCurry; Linda Bush and her son, Cody; Lya Thomas; Jeff Sloan; employees of Weir SPM; Molly Lawless; Baylor All Saints Medical Staff; Texas Oncology Staff; VITAS Hospice Staff; and Dr. Stephen Richey. Thank you, Dr. Richey, for giving us these last two years with this amazing young woman. Survivors: Father, Bennie and wife, Carol Higgins; mother, Michelle Carlson; aunt and uncle, Dawn and Steve Nolan, all of Stephenville; sister, Jordan Higgins; boyfriend, Carson So; aunt and uncle, Sheri and Sean Ricketts, all of Fort Worth; and aunt, Brenda Kimmons of South Carolina.

Published in Star-Telegram on May 1, 2014