Obituary Assignment – Madi Winfield

Madi Winfield

As a kid, she dreamed of becoming a writer, or a dancer, or a doctor.

As a teen, she joined her school newspaper, performed in musical theatre, and spent too much time in hospitals.

Madi Winfield passed away suddenly last Friday. She was 16 years old.

She spent her life consumed in the passions that took hold of her for days, weeks, months at a time. She was the first in her grade to finish all seven Harry Potter books, and she attended the final movie with her cousins in costume. She worked for weeks to convince her family to watch Parks and Recreation, even creating Powerpoints to help make her case. She seemed to download a new Broadway cast album every week, singing along in the shower, the car, the hallways at school. She dressed up for Halloween as puns, Arrested Development characters, musical theatre references, and everything in between.

She was always moving forward. So when, at age 14, she was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma, her first instinct was fear of slowing down, of putting her life on hold.

“I feel lost,” she wrote days after diagnosis. “I have no idea what’s going to happen, and I’m terrified.”

She dealt with nine months of grueling weekly chemo. Nine months of missing school. Of missing out. Of needles and needles and needles – IVs and port accesses and CT scans and needles and needles and needles. And after nine months, she was given a slice of chocolate cake – a food she couldn’t eat while on treatment – and a Clean Bill of Health, thirteen days before her birthday.

“It was the best present I could’ve asked for,” she said.

She went on to win local math competitions and state journalism awards. She made friends, led clubs and organizations, got involved in the community, and scored a 36 on her ACT. But her proudest accomplishment was not something she accomplished herself.

“I didn’t beat cancer,” she said. “I didn’t do anything. The doctors and nurses and chemo beat the cancer. But I held on. I kept going. I’m prouder of that than any award. Who wouldn’t be?”