Wake Up and Live: The Kristy LeMond Story

What would you do if you had a rare aggressive sarcoma cancer and knew that time was of the essence? Would you be consumed by fear and illness or would you find hope? Would you see your life’s work as having a finite ending point or would you find a way to continue your dreams? Would you shield yourself and loved ones from the worst possible news and sorrow or would you face it straight on?

These were some of the serious questions that Kristy LeMond faced at the tender age of 23.

Kristy was a beautiful young woman with a zest for living and a passion for helping others. The advice to live authentically and truthfully is an inspirational goal for some; for Kristy it was a daily reality.

Kristy in TanzaniaAfter graduating from the University of Washington in 2011, Kristy’s adventurous and giving spirit led her to travel across the world to volunteer in orphanages, teach English and learn. She was particularly impacted by her time in Tanzania and became a huge advocate for the Tanzania Children’s Fund. After Africa, her curiosity and wanderlust continued and she made her way to Europe and then to Chile where she felt she could make a real difference with teaching English through the English Opens Doors program. It was at the start of her Chilean trip that she felt a lump that necessitated a return to Seattle to start a different journey. Kristy died in May 2013 less than a year after being diagnosed with cancer, yet she lived fully to the end.

She found the ultimate truths and meaning in life and shared her thoughts through her own inspiring blog, Wake Up and Live. This is an excerpt from her last entry, written April 23, 2013, a week before she died:

Kristythe hardest thing i’ve ever done

Hello everyone! I know I’ve been absent for a really long time, most of that being because for the past month or so it’s been pretty rough on me emotionally. Usually I’m able to balance my faith, reality, hope, and facts in a nice, mostly positive bubble and I think that’s what has gotten me through to this point so far. After my last meeting with my oncologist saying that the second line of chemo we were trying was not working, this bubble was so deflated and angry that it was hard for me to get back to that positive place when my doctors were telling me the reality of the situation. For the first time since this process I started, I was thinking about my future and not seeing much. I started worrying about things I would miss; my career, finding the love of my life, having a family, watching my friends and family grow up and experiencing all these things too. These are all things that started buzzing constantly in my head where as before I was able to shut it off and ignore the noise. I was able to remind myself that I don’t know God’s plan and I don’t get to know if this will end up one way or the other until it happens. Lately, it’s been different. I can’t understand why people keep saying ‘you’re so inspirational’ and ‘you’re so positive’. Excuse me? No, I’ve been grumpy, edgy, and pretty negative for about a month now-ask my poor parents 🙂 it wasn’t until a message I recieved from an almost complete stranger a few weeks ago that shook me to my core and brought me back to that place I knew I had once been and could get to again. She reminded me of how strong my faith was and how inspiring that could be. I started to slowly crawl out of that funk, despite the difficulties I was dealing with all of a sudden with my breathing.

To read the blog in its entirety click here: http://khlemond.tumblr.com/.

No one can imagine being in Kristy’s shoes, nor being her parent, brother or friend and seeing this unfold. Kristy’s mother Kathy has good days and bad, but has been buoyed by the power of her daughter’s resolve. Kathy said, “Kristy was helped enormously through her 11-month battle by her faith and her desire to continue to make a difference. Her blog did, and continues to, make more of a difference than she ever knew. She so much wanted others to embrace volunteerism like she had. She wanted us to see what she saw and experience the feelings she had and so we are and we will.”

Recently Kathy came across a list of New Year’s Resolutions written by Kristy in late 2011.Kristy's resolutions

Kristy’s 2012 resolutions

  1. No more gossip! No judgmental thoughts towards others and yourself. No snide comments
  2. Take advantage of every opportunity no matter how small.
  3. Respect and love your family always. Meaning act on it all the time.
  4. Take risks when applying to jobs – don’t get discouraged.
  5. “You can’t dance with the devil on your back” so shake it off. Shake off your bad moods. Don’t let yourself get frustrated to the point of anger. Others don’t want to be around your negative energy!
  6. Reach out to someone every week. No more hiding. No more selfishness.
  7. Smile more your life is good!
  8. Focus on you and what’s best for you.
  9. Little things to show your friends you love them.
  10. Spread love, love, love. You have so much to offer!

Kristy wrote these resolutions prior to her diagnosis. What’s even more amazing is that she accomplished all of these resolutions in her life time, many in her last months.

In her last blog entry Kristy stated, “I refuse to die anything short of successfully.” She spent the last seven days of her life at home with family and friends talking, listening, crying and just being. During the service, her eulogist stated, “She loved unconditionally when helping those in need and being the type of friend that we all hope to become…I have witnessed many people die, but I have never seen a journey like this one.”

Kristy’s message to us is clear, be authentic and truthful – Wake up and live!

Carol Lewis Gullstad October 21, 2013


Post Script

Kristy’s family, friends and those moved by her story are carrying on her mission to help others in a myriad of ways:

Her sorority sisters at the University of Washington chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma are raising money to establish a scholarship in her memory. For more information: http://www.biddingowl.com/wakeupandlive

Beauty Chain Julep developed a special nail polish “Kristy,” 10% of all sales go to the Kristy LeMond Memorial Fund. For more information: http://blog.julep.com/kristys-story/

Kristy’s loved sunflowers. Friends and family are photographing sunflower stickers in various locations around the world to show that Kristy’s spirit is with them. The photos can be viewed on the Facebook page, We carry you in our hearts Kristy LeMond. https://www.facebook.com/TravelingKristyLemondkeep us strong

Learn more about Kristy:



  1. yo conocí a kristy en chile ella era una persona muy linda se extraña mucho y siempre la recordaremos y llevaremos en nuestros corazones

  2. Wow. So powerful. This is beautiful, sad, touching…puts a lot into perspective.

    Thank you for sharing. This truly touched me.


  1. […] Wake Up and Live: The Kristy LeMond Story […]

  2. […] Wake Up and Live / The Kristy Lemond Story – Permission to live life to its fullest (Carol) […]

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