Have you ever met someone and felt positive energy simply radiate from him or her? I’m lucky to say that I have. And the craziest part? This amazing person was a ray of sunshine even while battling breast cancer…and chasing after a squirrely baby. Talk about mom goals right there.
For those of you who don’t know, I am talking about Lauren Smoke…better known across Chicagoland as “Miss Lauren.” She was one of, if not THE, most popular preschool teachers and entertainers in the city and suburbs. But it wasn’t just her angelic voice and kind words that made her stand out. Lauren was creative, patient, thoughtful, and charismatic and made each and every one of the children she interacted with feel like they were the most important person in the world. Heck, she even made this 34 year old woman feel that way.
Lauren’s life story took a turn when she found out not only that she was pregnant, but also that she had breast cancer. Heartbreakingly, she first saw her baby via ultrasound and found out about her cancer diagnosis all on the same day. Lauren talked about her unique pregnancy journey with Chicago Parent, which you can read here.
Thankfully, her “Little Warrior” baby Nico arrived healthy and after additional cancer fighting treatments post-pregnancy, Lauren was happy to discover that her cancer was in remission. Lauren, her husband Ian, and Nico were a blissful family until they discovered that Lauren’s cancer was back in the form of Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. A true warrior herself, Lauren maintained a positive outlook and continued writing and singing all while going through exhausting cancer treatments.
On her You Caring site, Lauren wrote that she didn’t feel like she lost to cancer, even though it returned. In her words,
“I love my family and friends. I love my life. And my son reminds me every single day that I won. I was able to bring him into the world despite the most dire of circumstances. His smile gets me through EVERYTHING. I may have given him life, but, like I’ve said before, he saves mine every day. And that’s why cancer never wins.”
Unfortunately, after a valiant battle, Lauren Smoke passed away on April 28th surrounded by her loving family. My heart breaks for her family, especially Ian and Nico. But instead of feeling helpless, there are so many things that we (I’m looking at you, person behind the computer screen) can do to help.
We can’t bring Lauren back, but we can share our stories of her. We can help cover the cost of her medical care by donating to her You Caring site. We can bring Ian and Nico a meal so cooking isn’t a worrisome problem. We can celebrate her life with song and happy memories at her Memorial service. We can help spread her legacy through Nico and support his college fund, in addition to the fight against breast cancer.
For those with little ones who were touched by Miss Lauren’s music, Bubbles Academy is hosting a free “Finding Language for Loss” seminar with a Child Life and Grief Specialist to help families navigate their way through this difficult time.