Brave to the end | CraigDailyPress.com

Brave to the end

Faith comforts Craig woman, family in difficult hours

Joshua Roberts

— The machine, or “pain pump,” that had helped Cassie Owens manage what had grown into an unmanageable, cancerous tumor proved unnecessary Friday night at her home in Craig.

An unflinching belief in God, and a comfort in knowing her final destination, eradicated what the science of man could not.

Cassie, a 22-year-old Craig woman and 2003 graduate of Moffat County High School, died early Saturday morning. Friends and family describe her as a beautiful, intelligent, warm woman who, in the face of grim odds, chose bravery instead of fear.

She never lost her positive attitude, and the vibrant smile she showed throughout her life didn’t abandon her in her final hours, they said.

“She was saying she had to go, she needed to go,” Cassie’s mother, Cyndee Owens said. “We told her, ‘Go ahead and go. We’ll catch up with you later on.'”

It comes as a comfort to her family that they – parents Ray and Cyndee, and brothers, Caleb and Chayton – were nearby as she left this world. The words offered by family friend Joan Hillewaert, who told the young woman that she’d soon hold audience with her savior, Jesus, also were greeted with joy.

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“Cassie had a big smile on her face, and said yes,” Cyndee said. “She never lost her good thoughts, and she had a really great smile.

“I know she’s in heaven. When you’re not in your body, you’re with the Lord. I believe that, and so did she.”

Cassie was diagnosed with cancer in December 2006 after doctors found a tumor on her liver.

A July trip to the Mayo Clinic, an internationally renowned hospital and medical school in Rochester, Minn., revealed that the cancer had hit “really hard and fast,” Cyndee said, and that little could be done to treat the disease.

Cassie’s final weeks were made easier by the excellent care she received at the hands of hospice nurses, her family said.

Although stricken with a terrible disease, Cassie felt hopeful for the future.

“She was really convinced she was going to beat it, that this was going to be a blip in the road and that she was going to move on with her life,” her mother said.

It was the same message of hope Cassie delivered earlier this summer when she spoke to the crowd during the Craig Relay for Life event, a fundraiser on behalf of the American Cancer Society.

Helped to the podium by family, Cassie inspired on-lookers, one of which said the speech served as a worthy reminder of “why we fundraise, so that we have an opportunity to find a cure for people like Cassie.”

Funeral services for Cassie will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Christian Church. A viewing is scheduled for 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Grant Mortuary. The public is invited to attend.

Cassie, a Montana State University student for two years, was interrupted in her studies by the cancer and fell just short of receiving her communication’s degree. In her name, the family will soon establish a memorial scholarship fund. Donations to the fund may be made in care of the Bank of Colorado.

Although Cassie’s passing wasn’t unexpected, her family and friends understandably mourn her. They said they were prepared for the end, but “you can never be that prepared.”

Still, the sting they feel today is tempered by knowing their loved one rests in a far better place than they world she left behind.

“She’s doing fine,” Cyndee said. “It’s the rest of us who are having a little trouble.”

Arrangements:

A funeral for Cassie Owens, a 22-year-old Craig woman and 2003 Moffat County High School graduate, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Christian Church, 960 W. Victory Way.

Viewing will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Grant Mortuary, 621 Yampa Ave.

The public is invited to attend.