CHRISTAL ANN HIGGINS
October 2, 1985 to April 7, 2014
Christal Ann Higgins, a vivacious blonde known for her generous spirit and unfailing optimism, passed away at a Fort Worth, Texas hospice on Monday, April 7. Just 28, she died of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (CCRCC), leaving family and friends devastated.
“Christal took on cancer with the same tenacity that she tackled life,” said her aunt, Sherilyn Ricketts of Fort Worth. “It won the hearts of anyone who had the privilege to know her.”
As a young girl, Christal was told by her Great-Aunt Jo that she looked like the Princess of Monaco. The petite young woman, who so resembled Grace Kelly, battled cancer with humor, grace and dignity. Her motto was “Be courageous.” (Chrystal at right with one of her nurses.)
Christal “Scooter” Higgins came into the world on October 2, 1985 in Stephenville, TX, the older of two daughters born to Bennie Higgins and Michelle Carson. She was given the name “Scooter” by her father when she was a baby because she would scoot across the floor in her diaper.
After attending Stephenville High, Christal graduated from the University of North Texas in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in communications and a minor in counseling. Her original major was radio, TV and film until an instructor told her she had too much personality. Christal was very animated, probably due to her time in school theatre. In 2003, she was voted “Theater Sweetheart” at Stephenville High, and won UIL (University Interscholastic League) for a pantomime she performed with her friend, Heather Toves.
While in college, she joined the Alpha Delta Pi (ADPi) sorority and served as director of standards and ethics for a semester. Being part of ADPi was a life-changing experience. At the time Christal decided to pledge, her grades were so dismal that her Uncle Sean Ricketts agreed to pay dues as long as she maintained a 3.5 GPA. From that point on she made the Dean’s List each semester until graduation. In 2009, she earned the “Ted Colson Award of Excellence” in Performance Studies. Recently, one of her ADPi sisters told how Christal was the one to go to if you need help in your classes.
For the last three years of her life, Christal worked as a Human Resource Coordinator at Weir SPM in Fort Worth. Despite grappling with the effects of chemo, radiation and exhaustion, Christal would queue up Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” while getting ready for work. When she lost most of her chestnut locks to radiation treatments, she proudly sported a Mohawk, as did many of her coworkers. Christal worked with an amazing group of people who supported her and showered her with understanding and love. Weir is where Christal met the love of her life, Carson So. (Christal is shown at right with one of her nurses.)
She loved dressing up
Little defeated Christal for long. She loved dressing up and going out with friends to clubs, parties and concerts. Christal’s best friend from birth was her sister, Jordan. They shared a passion for theater, Disney movies, the Mavericks and Aerosmith (seven concerts at last count). Jordan would often buy their Aerosmith tickets as a birthday gift to her sister, anything where they could be together. When Christal was invited to present the game ball as a representative of Texas Oncology for the Mavericks’ Dec. 3, 2013 game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Jordan was by her side. (Christal shown at left with game ball.)
But their greatest joy was travel. Last year, Christal flew to Poland to meet up with Jordan, and the pair then ventured off through England, France, Germany and Disneyland in Paris. It was the adventure of a lifetime.
Christal made lasting friendships with a smile that lit up her eyes. She had a concern for other people’s happiness that was irresistible. Jessica, her childhood friend, says that each time Christal bragged about Jessica being in law school, Jessica’s LSAT scores would increase. On Christal’s first day at college, she saw a young man sitting on a bench by himself and decided to introduce herself. She sat down next to Matthew Weatherford and from that day on, they were the best of friends. He took her to her first Lady Gaga concert.
Heather, her friend from grade school, and her sisters donated to Locks of Love on behalf of Christal. The list of friends who would come to see her at a moment’s notice would fill a page. She had always been an amazing friend to them. That was her gift, to be happy for others, encouraging and considerate no matter what she was dealing with.
Twenty-eight treatments to her brain
In terms of her illness, her Uncle Sean made sure that she always had someone waiting for her after her radiation appointments. At last count, she endured twenty-eight treatments to her brain. Her sister Jordan was there for moral support, singing “You’ve got a friend” from Toy Story to keep her spirits up, or joining her on trips across the country in search of alternative treatments. Carson would hide little notes, telling her how wonderful she was. Aunt Sheri would make her home-cooked meals, always assuring her she would win this fight. And when it came to the hospital, everyone rotated, sometimes fighting over who got to stay. The list of people who would send emails, cards or prayers was endless.
Christal battled CCRCC, which comprises about 65 percent of kidney cancers found. It was estimated she had developed the disease around the age of 16 and was diagnosed when she developed a brain metastasis at the age of 26. Christal found there was not much known about kidney cancer, which frustrated her and her sister. They both wanted to raise awareness and help others who will have to battle the disease in the future. Christal asked that people support research on cures for kidney cancer.
Recognition and gratitude to those who kept Christal’s spirits up and cared for her during very difficult times: Monty (her Boston Terrier and longtime companion); Jessica McCurry; Linda Bush and her son, Cody; Lya Thomas; Jeff Sloan; employees of Weir SPM; Molly Lawless; Baylor All Saints Medical Staff, Texas Oncology Staff; VITAS Hospice Staff, and Dr. Stephen Richey. Thank you Dr. Richey for giving us these last two years with this amazing young woman.
Crystal is survived by her father, Bennie Higgins and his wife Carol; her mother, Michelle Carlson; aunt and uncle, Dawn and Steve Nolan, all of Stephenville; her sister Jordan, boyfriend, Carson So, aunt and uncle, Sheri and Sean Ricketts, all of Fort Worth, and her aunt, Brenda Kimmons of South Carolina
Funeral services were held at 1 pm on Saturday, May 3rd, at Fort Worth First United Methodist Church, with burial following at Greenwood Memorial Park in Fort Worth.
In Lieu of flowers, the family request donations be made to the following:
The Kidney Cancer Research Group
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
PO Box 4486
Houston, TX 77210-4486
Make Checks Payable to MD Anderson Cancer Center
Please include a note stating that the donation is in memory of Christal Higgins, the donation to be used wholly for Kidney Cancer research and not for administrative or overhead costs.