Lauren Sophia Maziarz was cured of cancer on October 21, 2010 at her home in Piedmont, South Carolina in the presence of her parents, grandparents and Aunt. She was five years and one day old.
Lauren was born October 20, 2005 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to David Maziarz, MD and Robin Gaines, MD. She is survived by her three-month-old sister whom she named Harper Alexa Sophia. She is the granddaughter of Skeet and Thelma Gaines of Easley, SC and Dr. Dennis and Mrs. Elizabeth Maziarz of Bucks County, PA. She is the great-granddaughter of Theresa Owings Boroughs of Greenville. She is also survived by her aunt and uncle, SC State Trooper Weldon "Ankle" Marlow and Mrs. Terri "Tantie" Gaines Marlow , and their son Benjamin of Easley, SC. She is also survived by Aunt Paula and Uncle Jonathan Maziarz of Austin, Texas and cousin Marco.
She was an eleventh-generation Carolinian, a descendant of the English Burris/ Boroughs, Whitaker, Chamblee, Owings, Gaines, Moss and Lollis families of Upstate South Carolina. On her paternal side she was a third-generation American with lineage from Poland (Maziarz and Midura lines ), Hungary (Csernech), and Italy (Rockino). She was a Chi Omega legacy through her mother and Duke legacy through both parents. She was a good southern girl, and full of sass.She was a Presbyterian and loved God, Jesus and Mary. She was baptized on her fifth birthday in her home with water from the family creek in an heirloom poplar bowl hand carved by her great-great grandfather. Rev Neil Cochran, Children's Hospital chaplain (Ret.) performed the ceremony.
Lauren resided in Piedmont with her family. She was a member of the River Reserve Preschool Play Group. She previously attended St Paul's Day School in Kingsport, TN. She enjoyed dancing, music, playing and being outdoors with her family and her 13-year-old Labrador Noah. She was actively involved with rescuing and fostering animals, and had helped save dogs for the Greenville Humane Society and Lowcountry Lab Rescue.
Her best friends were cousin Benjamin Marlow, Kate Madigan, cousins Maya and Zoe Gravanis, and the love of her life Aiden Robbins.
Lauren was diagnosed with cancer in May of 2009. She endured 7 rounds of chemotherapy, 6 major surgeries, 20 rounds of radiation which she endured alone in the radiation vault, and hundreds of shots, bone marrow biopsies, scans, blood transfusions and other painful procedures. In spite of it all, she rarely whined and kept a heart full of optimism and hope.
Lauren was a bright child, putting two words together at 12 months, and after mastering English began learning Mandarin. Too often Lauren was approached by strangers about her cancer, her hair loss, and whether she was going to live. Lauren fielded the questions with humor and dignity, never giving an indication of how much hurt certain comments left.
Lauren wanted to grow up to be a doctor like her parents, and she wanted to cure cancer. In her honor, numerous fundraisers were held for Cookies for Kids Cancer and Alex's Lemonade Stand. Lauren knew children's cancers are not given as much money as adult cancers, and she thought this was wrong and wanted to change it.
Lauren was beautiful, effervescent, and a true bon vivant. In January of this year she was photographed by celebrity photographer Sara Jaye Weiss. Photographs from her first session were chosen to grace the front and back covers of the Ronald McDonald of New York's annual report. She was also photographed with Mets third baseman and philanthropist David Wright, who fell for her enchanting personality immediately. They played a game of Connect Four as the paparazzi shot away, and Lauren beat Mr. Wright, playing by her own rules of course. Their picture was featured in the New York Daily News. She was also featured in Flying magazine in April in an article on Angel Flights.
Lauren suffered a horrific and preventable brain injury at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City on May 16, 2010. She came home on hospice with her family on July 5. Lauren was paralyzed and unable to walk or talk. Through her final and painful five months on earth she continued to teach others about grace and effort. Until her very last day on this earth, she did her very best.
Lauren lived more, accomplished more, loved more and fought harder to live in her five years than most adults will in a fair lifetime.
Many talk about living, or giving, or being a good Christian, but Lauren did these things effortlessly. The greatest way to honor her legacy is to continue her work.
The family will march together at 9 am November 13 at Furman University in Rachael's Run.
Thank you to Lauren's nurses, but especially Robin Gadd, Linda Carter and Wendy Cassidy who lived in our home and loved Lauren and allowed her dignity in her final weeks. A special thank you to Drs. Stroud and Bryant for loving Lauren as she was.
Graveside services were held at noon, October 23, 2010 at Greenlawn Memorial Park in Easley.
Rest, sweet princess, you have won the race.
Condolences may be expressed online at www.robinsonfuneralhomes.com or in person at Robinson Funeral Home - Powdersville Road, who is assisting the family.
Published in The Greenville News on Oct. 24, 2010