ATTLEBORO — Last month, iron workers installed a beam on a building being built next to Boston Children’s Hospital.
Inscribed on the beam were the words “Lilly’s Lymphomaniacs.”
It was a tribute to the iron will and courage of Lilly Toxavidis, 13, who spent nearly two years fighting cancer.
There are photos of Lilly with the beam in the background being hoisted into place. The cable on the crane held a sign with the same words.
But sadly, that iron will was not enough, and on Monday, Lilly died from the relentless, intractable disease.
She was the daughter of Lyndi Baker and Vasilis Toxavidis of Attleboro and was a student at Foxboro Regional Charter School, where one worker remembered her as “a ray of sunshine.”
Lilly was actually fighting two cancers.
She was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in November 2017.
Treatment for that disease involved 24 months of chemotherapy.
Then in May of this year she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, which required a bone marrow transplant.
In June strangers lined up by the dozens at American Legion Post 312 on Newport Avenue to give DNA samples to see if they were a match for a transplant.
Lilly was the niece of Attleboro High School cheer coaches Julie and Jenna Shellard, and was in the thoughts and prayers of many at the high school, especially the cheerleaders, Principal Bill Runey said.
“(She) won over the hearts of many in our Blue Pride Community with her courageous fight,” he said in an email to The Sun Chronicle. “Our cheerleaders were especially close to Lilly.”
The AHS Cheerleading Boosters Club posted the sad news Monday.
“It is with great sadness today that a beautiful Angel was given her wings,” the post said. “Sweet Lilly radiated nothing but pure beauty because of her gentle spirit, kindness, bravery, fearlessness and joyful smile. She truly made the world a better place.”
Last June, when strangers volunteered their DNA in the hope they would be the one to help the youngster win her battle, her mom Lyndi marveled at her daughter’s strength.
“Her outlook on life is so amazing,” she said and described Lilly as “positive and brave.”
“She’s accepted this with such grace,” Lyndi said. “Never once has she said, ‘Why did this happen to me and not someone else?’”
When the first diagnosis was made, some family members cried in Lilly’s hospital room, but the youngster was more concerned about others, Julie Shellard said.
“Don’t cry for me, cry for the other kids in the hospital who are sicker than me,” she remembered Lilly saying.
But now her family and friends are crying for her.
“The weight of the world is beyond heavy today,” said one, Erica Blanchard, in a Facebook post. “Lilly has passed away and is no longer suffering. She’s the teen we all remember and will remember forever. She is smiling down on all of us and surrounding us with her love.”