Inspirational teen succumbs to cancer

| May 22, 2013 | 0 Comments
Zach Sobiech, right, of St. Michael in Stillwater, offers a gesture of congratulations to Matt Brown during Brown’s confirmation Mass at St. Mary in Stillwater April 22. Sobiech, a friend of the Brown family since his early years, died of cancer May 20 at his home in Lakeland. He was Matt’s confirmation sponsor. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Zach Sobiech, right, of St. Michael in Stillwater, offers a gesture of congratulations to Matt Brown during Brown’s confirmation Mass at St. Mary in Stillwater April 22. Sobiech, a friend of the Brown family since his early years, died of cancer May 20 at his home in Lakeland. He was Matt’s confirmation sponsor. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Zach Sobiech of St. Michael in Stillwater, who inspired thousands of people around the country and the world during his battle with cancer, and with the music he wrote and recorded during his fight, died at 6:30 a.m. May 20, surrounded by his family and girlfriend Amy Adamle. He was 18.

Three and a half years ago, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer that strikes teenagers during their growth years. Last spring, the cancer spread throughout his body, rendering treatment ineffective in curing the disease.

Within hours of his death, his mother Laura wrote a message on his CaringBridge site: “Zachary passed away this morning. He was surrounded by his sisters, brother, parents and girlfriend. We love him dearly.”

A close family friend, Anne Brown, visited the Sobiech home in Lakeland to offer comfort to the family the morning Zach died.

Zach was her son Matt’s confirmation sponsor April 22, when Bishop Lee Piché came to St. Mary in Stillwater to offer the sacrament during a Mass for the two families and close friends.

“The next day, he couldn’t have done that,” Anne said. “So, it’s miraculous the timing of everything. Everything happened in the right time. It was a special thing and something Matt will never forget. He’s heartbroken.

“The kids grew up together and Zach was like the older brother that Matt never had. When we asked him who he wanted his sponsor to be, there wasn’t any question.

“He knew he wanted it to be Zach. At the time [last fall], we weren’t even sure if Zach was going to still be here. But, it wasn’t something that we ever questioned. It was just never going to be anybody else. In Zach, we lost a great role model for Matt.”

The funeral for Zach is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 23 at St. Michael, with visitation for one hour beforehand.

The faith journey of the Sobiech family was featured in the May 9 edition of The Catholic Spirit.

“Zach was a beautiful person, and he was loved by everyone he met,” Anne Brown said. “He’s going to be sorely missed.”

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