Just over three years ago I lost a good friend to cancer. How many stories have you heard start off like this? Probably a ton, right? Here's why this one is different. I met Cassie Hines when I first started high school back on the east side. She was pretty, well liked and popular. Me? Yeah not so much at that point. Fast forward a few years and we never really spoke, here and there always friendly. In her junior year of high school, while on Spring Break if I recall correctly, she was diagnosed with cancer. I remember feeling horrible about her situation and that was really it. I didn't know her very well. Our senior year of high school, I somehow accidentally won Homecoming King and Cassie had won Homecoming Queen and we ended up spending a lot of time together in those few weeks that led up to the Homecoming Dance.

Cassie and I stayed in touch regularly throughout our senior year and developed a really nice friendship and I thought how lucky I was just to have another friend. Her situation was getting worse with her health. It seemed that every time I heard good news about Cassie, very quickly after I would get some bad news as well. It seemed to go on like this for a long time. I was in a band in high school and a few years in college and Cassie was always a fan of our music (or at least, really pretended to be). There was a massive fundraising dinner happening in our community and we were asked to play at the event, it was from that day on where Cassie and I really struck up a solid bond. Against her doctors orders, Cassie came out to the dinner and saw us play, said she always wanted to hear us but never got the chance.

After the dinner, I took Cassie, with some friends, to her first ever midnight movie. We saw Captain America together. I knew that she wasn't in the best of health. You could see it, but we never talked about it. That was the amazing thing about this woman. She had multiple things going against her in a lot of ways. But she was always glass half full, she was always so positive about her situation. I would complain about the dumbset things and I would have to stop myself and be like, "dude, shut up. Look what your friend is going through and look at her positivity."  Cassie was a Spartan. Went to MSU and came home in the summer to take some community college courses when going and living in East Lansing became to difficult. I was in community college too and we took a class together over the summer. We had so much fun, making fun of the teacher or skipping class for an hour to go get something to eat. We were two peas in a pod.

It was there  that we first discussed how sick she really was. We only talked about it once, and I'll never forget it. We were in the break room and she needed help walking back to class. I told her I would sit there and wait as long as I needed to until she was ready. She told me everything that was going on, what hurt, how bad it hurt and what she thought would come next. In those classes she first told me about cancer camp. She was NOT thrilled to be going and sitting around with a bunch of other people who have cancer and feeling sorry for themselves, at least that's what she thought she was getting in to. When she got back, she was a whole new person. She took that incredible attitude and multiplied it by one million. She had the time of her life and she wanted nothing more than to help the people she went to camp with.

We left the class that summer and I was pondering my first tattoo, I was afraid honestly. I was being a total wimp. It was Cassie, who had gotten a tattoo when she was diagnosed, who told me "would you just do it. Come on!" So I did. It wasn't much after that, when she told me she would be going in to the hospital. No worries, right? I never thought anything could happen to this girl that she couldn't overcome. It was just a few days after that where I didn't hear from Cassie again. She had passed away before I ever got to tell her how much she meant to me and what an impact she made on my life. We didn't have a cliche goodbye or anything like that. We just said "see ya, good luck and let me know when you're out."

After Cassie had passed away, her incredible family and friends stated a marvelous organization called, The Cassie Hines Shoes Cancer Foundation where they will try and help kids get to cancer camps and ultimately starting their own, right here in Michigan. I got my second tattoo a few years ago with Cassie's initials now forever with me, just to remind myself that no matter what is going on in my life, it's really not so bad. Staying positive is hard for me, but hey, you have to try. I have worked with her family and this organization for the past 3 years in any way that I can. I thought that once I moved away, it would be way more difficult for me to get involved. Then I was approached by a great organization here in East Lansing. The MSU Dance Marathon folks reached out and wanted to see if I would be interested in helping out. So, after all that, this Saturday at the IM Circle on the MSU campus, join me at 4pm for Dance Marathon. Register at their website or just come on in anyway, it's for a great cause. See you there!