Two weeks ago, doctors told Stephanie Turner she had a few days to live. Breast cancer, which Turner first experienced five years ago, had returned one month earlier and was shutting down her liver.
Turner refused to accept a few days. She needed two weeks. She needed to watch her daughter, Lauren, play goalkeeper for Indianapolis's Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in the Class 2A state championship.
In a heartfelt piece in The Indianapolis Star, Gregg Doyel documents the emotional Turner family experience from Carroll Stadium's Suite 7.
Stephanie smiles and with the strength she can muster, tells Doyel:
"I love my kids."
"I had to be here."
"I wouldn't miss this."
— IndyStar (@indystar) November 1, 2015
Doyel takes a walk down to the bleachers with Stephanie's husband, Troy. Doyel asks Troy how the children, which includes William, a freshman at Brebeuf, and John, a senior safety at Notre Dame who was excused from the Fighting Irish's Saturday game at Temple to come home to Indy, how they cope with everything. Troy looks back at the suite.
"She's our strength," he says. "If she can handle this, we can't justify not being able to handle it, too."
The opening minutes did not start off the way the Turner family hoped it would. Brebeuf's opponent, Penn, scored on Lauren two minutes into the game-–just the eighth goal Lauren allowed all season. Lauren kept her team in the game the rest of the way, and midway through the second half, Brebeuf found a seam to tie the game at 1.
With six minutes left, the Braves got another opportunity and ripped in a second goal. Brebeuf held on to win the state title, 2-1.
"That's my La-La," Stephanie says.
Lauren sprinted off the field and into Suite 7, where she hugged her mother. Both Stephanie and Lauren cry. Then the entire Braves roster came into the suite to hug Stephanie.
The players then headed back onto the field to accept their trophy and medals. Stephanie didn't want to be alone. When she is asked about leaving the suite, she says, "I have to be there."
— IndyStar Sports (@IndyStarSports) November 1, 2015
An exhausted Stephanie went down to the field in her wheelchair, draped in a blanket and a jacket. She could barely keep her eyes open, but she used all five senses to take in the experience. Even when doctors said she would not be there, Stephanie's will kept her alive long enough to see her daughter win the state championship.
Doyel's article was published Saturday, but the unfortunate, inevitable news surfaced Monday afternoon. Stephanie Turner died about 40 hours after Brebeuf's title. When Lauren placed that championship medal on her neck, Stephanie could finally rest.