I can remember exactly where I was the first time I heard her name, Churee Cregar. I was at the Works of Mercy Center where my friend and, at the time, fellow board member of Mom2Mom Brookville, Kelly Bulmer was explaining the situation of a dear friend of hers (Churee) and her battle with cancer to myself and the other two board members.

With tears in her eyes, Kelly explained Churee was a wife and mother of two and didn't have much time left. She was terminally ill with multiple types of cancer and had been battling cancer for as long as Kelly could recall. In fact, in 2013 Churee celebrated 10 years of survival with her friends and family after being diagnosed with cancer in 2003. However, Churee would not survive for the 15-year celebration as she finally came to rest on June 26, 2017, after battling cancer for almost 15-years. Below is Churee's story in her own words that was posted on fightlikeagirlclub.com March 28, 2017 just three months before she passed away.

“At 27, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, BRCA gene, HER2-positive, Stage 2. So I went through 8 rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and 35 rounds of radiation, a double radical mastectomy, 2 reconstruction surgeries, and a total hysterectomy in a year and a half's time. Every doctor assured me it wasn't cancer, but we kept pushing until we found an answer, and when we did, it was a major shock to all of us.
For seven years, I was cancer free. After I made the 5 year mark, I thought I was good to go. But after a revision breast surgery, I contracted a staph infection and was admitted to the hospital for 15 days, where they found cancer in my right lung. After many pokes, 2 breast surgeries and Talc powder in my lung, I finally went home to my family.
Nine months later, after many trips to the ER and severe pain, I was told I had liver cancer. Back to chemotherapy and more doctor appointments for the next year and a half. Only to find out 6 months later, I had it in my right femur, so we would start with a chemotherapy shot for the bone.
After many months of finally feeling like I was gonna be okay, I started having nausea and headaches, so I had a brain MRI, only to find out there was a tumor on the left side. So I had spot radiation, and it was gone. I was so relieved, since that was one of the cancers I was most terrified of having. I was pushing forward now to live life to the fullest with my family and friends. I was so happy.
My liver was giving me so much pain, I ended up having the Y90 procedure, and it killed 10 tumors in the liver, leaving 3 very, very small ones. I once again was feeling great. All the news was coming back good. A re-check of the brain was clear, lung and bone cancer were stable. I was feeling so positive, only to be knocked back down again with a tumor on the right side of the brain now. Once again, I had spot radiation, and as of my last checkup a week ago, it's clear.
I just had a check-up a few weeks ago for the liver cancer, and it's back again and a little more aggressive than before. But I'm on a new chemotherapy pill and really using essential oils now. My faith and positivity will keep me going.|
You would think after hearing seven times that you have cancer, I would be numb, but I always just think, “OK, WE GOT THIS!!” I have moments of tears and anger, but I wipe those away because those aren't what is gonna get me through this fight. It is my attitude to get up and show up to keep rolling on this journey.
I believe prayers and positive attitude help me keep this journey up. I don't know what my purpose is yet, but I won't give up on finding it, and if I can tell my story to make someone keep the belief up, then I will tell it every day if I need to. Have a blessed day and much love to all.”

Churee

That can-do attitude is exactly what I remember about her. After Kelly explained the situation, she informed us she was hoping to start a meal train for the Cregar family; however, Churee with her positive attitude and zest for life didn't take well to help, handouts or people feeling sorry for her. Finally, after lots of convincing, Kelly finally got Churee to agree to the meal train. Ecstatic, we got the meal train up so community members could volunteer and as we expected, the slots were filling up quickly. It seemed everyone in the community loved and respected this family.
As the first day of the meal train approached, we still didn't have a sign up for that first day. All the other spots filled up quickly. Kelly and I had lunch and she shared how concerned she was that the first day we were supposed to have a meal delivered to Churee and family, we had no volunteers. I knew what that meant, I was going to need to get a dinner made for this family so they felt supported right from the beginning. I left lunch early so I could get to the store and find something to prepare for dinner for my family and the Cregar family.
Once the meal was complete, I nervously got in my car and drove over to the Cregar's address Kelly had given me. I expected to be greeted by one of Churee's family members due to how ill Kelly had described her. Instead, I was met by Churee herself, and like everyone else in the community, I quickly fell in love with this spirited woman who seemed to not be afraid of anything, even cancer.
I left the Cregar residence that day certain Kelly had been wrong about Churee. The woman I met couldn't be dying of cancer. She was too upbeat. All smiles and wasn't about to let cancer get her down. I left the house that day in absolute awe of the woman I had met. I realized that day what her friends and family already knew; Churee was a fighter. I wanted to help more, but I also knew she was going to be a tough nut to crack when it came to accepting help. So, I did the only thing I could do, cook meals and drop them off without giving her a warning so she couldn't refuse. That was all it took; Churee and I became fast friends and I just knew she was going to come out on top of this fight against cancer.
I realized later that even if Churee thought she wasn't going to beat the cancer, she wouldn't have shared that with any of us. She was too busy being strong. She was too busy living. She was too busy being positive. She was too busy fighting. Even two weeks before she went to heaven, Churee shared a positive, upbeat Facebook post with friends and family.

“FINALLY!! For 2 weeks I've been down and so happy to say today is the 1st I've felt halfway decent,” Churee's post read. “Thank you to my fabulous nurses and everyone for all they've done last 2-3 weeks.food, txts, call, cards and support with prayers with a late night green olive delivery from the girls lol..long road ahead but it's all gonna be ok..much love.”

On June 26, with her family by her side, Churee took her last earthly breath and was finally released from the cancer she had fought so hard against for nearly 15 years. The news sent shock waves through the community as everyone began to mourn the loss of their friend.
Family members who were always a priority and loved by Churee still can't shake the want to pick up the phone and call when something happens.

“When something good or bad happens, I still want to call her,” Lauren Short, Churee's sister said. “Whenever I needed her or the kids needed her, she was there no matter what. Her amazing ability to get her treatment in the same day and then run and do errands all day for her family like Chemo didn't happen, or just be sisters and argue and fight, which we were really good at. She was my big sister, I miss all of her, being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a big sister or an Auntie Ree. The fight she had in her pushed you to be stronger.”

Churee's fight didn't just push Lauren to be stronger. I can recall the time Churee felt I needed inspired and got me the sweetest card and a beautiful bracelet that simply said “dream.” I remember the tears flowing as I thought “How can this woman do something for someone else right now?” I also remember feeling angry that she was encouraging me to dream while her dream of being with her family and cancer free slipped further and further away. Her strength still inspires me when I look down and see that bracelet on my wrist reminding me of my very own hero.
Even in death, Churee would be impossible to forget. She pushed an entire community to be stronger and as a result, friends and family refused to only be sad when they remember Churee. Instead, a tree has been planted in the town park in her memory. A permanent meal train, Mama Ree's Meals, was established and paid for by her family. For two years Churee's husband Dave, daughter Jaylee and her sister Lauren personally delivered each meal to another person in the community in need.

Mama Ree's Nook was also established and, like her; is a calm, warm and peaceful place for those battling cancer to find solace.
Even though it has been three years since she left us, memories still get shared on her Facebook frequently. Many from friends celebrating past milestones, Jeep rides (which she loved) and her family. They serve as a loving reminder of when Churee was with us and how she made the world a better place to live.

I could never say Churee lost her fight, because she didn't. Her body may not have been able to comply with what her mind was willing it to do, but she made every attempt to live life to the fullest every single moment of every single day. And most importantly, she loved her people with all her heart and so fiercly that we could never forget her love.