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Life Story / Obituary
Chelsea Marie Cronk lived with energy, enthusiasm and determination. A young lady with a soul larger than life, her smile could light up any room. Brightening each day with her positive spirit and unparalleled compassion, Chelsea was an inspiration to everyone she encountered. Although now gone from our earthly presence, Chelsea’s loving legacy will remain in the hearts of those she leaves behind.
Chelsea’s adoring parents, Brian and Shela (Slater) Cronk of Kalamazoo, Michigan were filled with joy as they welcomed the birth of their little girl, Chelsea Marie Cronk into their arms on Tuesday, May 2, 1995. Arriving on a beautiful spring day as the buds began to bloom, 4 weeks prior to her scheduled delivery; her early beginning mirrored her passion for life.
Later joined by her younger siblings, Amanda and Chase, Chelsea and her family made their home in Portage where she attended the local schools. Her father worked as an electrical and process engineer, and her mother as a dental receptionist. Chelsea enjoyed a joyful childhood filled with memorable times with family and friends. She relished their great adventures camping and later the simplicity of hanging out with friends.
From her earliest beginnings, Chelsea had a zest for life. Almost fearless, she loved roller coasters. A true romantic, her favorite movies included Titanic, and The Notebook. Every year at Christmastime, one of her favorite family traditions was to make Christmas cookies with her mom and sister to share with neighbors and friends. Above all, Chelsea’s favorite place to be was surrounded by the family she loved.
Chelsea had a tight circle of friends that began in elementary and continued throughout her life. Amidst the joy of these friendships, she was extremely close and devoted to her sister Amanda whom she considered her best friend. Shopping outings with her mom and sister remain some of the most treasured moments they shared.
Excelling in her studies as an honor roll student, she became a member of the National Honors Society. Chelsea, a graduate of 2013’s Portage Central High School class, she worked hard at school. Fervently, she tackled her health as well. In October of 2011, her junior year, she received a diagnosis of Osteosarcoma (bone cancer). The news was utterly devastating for Chelsea and her family, but she vowed to fight.
Her family and close friends by her side every step of the way, Chelsea was a stellar patient. During her 10 months of intense chemotherapy, Chelsea was granted a “Make a Wish.” Her desire was to travel to Hawaii and swim with the Sea Turtles. On her Hawaiian adventure through the Foundation, Chelsea fulfilled her wish and actually swam with two sea turtles; for this she was abundantly grateful!
Upon completing her treatment, Chelsea had a big, “End of Chemo” party in September of 2012 which was quite a milestone for her. It was at this celebration when Chelsea met Ethan Richards. He looked past Chelsea’s illness into her beautiful heart. They shared much in common and soon were inseparable.
During a routine CT scan in June 2013, it was discovered that her disease had returned. Chelsea consulted doctors from all over the country. Determined to live and fight the cancer, she endured every treatment possible. Holding onto hope with positive attitude, she anticipated a cure.
Chelsea began attending Lake Center Bible Church, and relied on the promises of God to see her through. Near the end stage of her disease, she texted Pastor Billy from the hospital and asked him to baptize her. Her strength and fortitude was amazing. Despite her illness, she sought to live life the fullest ways possible.
Embracing life with an ever determined nature, she uplifted those around her. Chelsea found enjoyment at Art Bayou weekly. Sharing time creating pieces of unique art with her mom, sister and friends, her positive spirit and intoxicating smiled filled the table. They created memories and found an outlet of beauty and joy in each other’s presence.
Furthering her education was paramount to Chelsea. Attending college at Western Michigan University, and Kalamazoo Valley, she wholeheartedly intended to become an oncology nurse. Chelsea continued to attend classes even while undergoing additional cancer treatments. These treatments included clinical trials, surgeries, biological drugs and radiation therapy. Only someone as strong as Chelsea could maintain a 4.0GPA in her studies at the same time.
Chelsea’s love for tropical climates brought her several opportunities to bask in great relationships with loved ones. Between cancer treatments, Chelsea traveled to Aruba with her Aunt Shelley, Uncle Rich, and Cousin Ashley. In December 2014, Chelsea and her family vacationed to Punta Cana savoring the beauty and incredible bliss of being able to share it all together.
Throughout her life, Chelsea was well liked by her peers and everyone who met her. Enormous amounts of people who came to know and love Chelsea through her illness were inspired by her positive spirit and resolve. Mentoring other young adults and children enduring chemotherapy, Chelsea befriended each one personally. Taking them under her wing, she shared her hope over and over. Her incredible impact reached doctors. Physicians commented to her parents what a beautiful person Chelsea was to be around.
February 2015, Chelsea’s doctors sent her home under the care of hospice. They gave her three to four more weeks; but Chelsea had more living to do. She directed them to find another drug because she was not quitting!
For her 20th birthday and due to shortened life expectancy, a Grand Ball was given in Chelsea’s honor. Wearing a beautiful wedding dress complete with all the frills she desired, it was a celebration to behold. Chelsea savored every moment.
Chelsea’s infectious smile could make the gloomiest of days seem bright. Through her positivity and determination, she taught others what it means to live despite the worst of circumstances. Chelsea did not allow cancer to define her. She was determined to live and fight, and kept battling to the very end. She lived by the motto, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Although the numbers of her days were few, even when the doctors thought she should have been bed ridden, she was out shopping, going to Art Bayou, or enjoying picnics. Chelsea lived fully and completely at every opportunity. Like the promise of an unending rainbow, she lived with hope in her heart.
Chelsea received her angel wings on Friday, May 8, 2105 at the age of 20, with her parents, sister, brother, and boyfriend lovingly by her side in her home. Although gone from love’s embrace, her parents take comfort knowing she is no longer suffering. She is at last at peace. Deeply missed, Chelsea will be fondly remembered for her strength and fighting spirit. Above all, her love reaches beyond physical separation. Chelsea’s beautiful smile shines on and on.
Visit with her family on Friday, May 15 from 4-7 p.m. at Life Story Funeral Homes, Portage; 5975 Lovers Lane (344-5600). A funeral service to celebrate her life will be held on Saturday, May 16, 11:00 a.m. at Lake Center Bible Church; 995 Romance Road, Portage. Chelsea is survived by her parents, Brian and Shela Cronk; her sister and brother, Amanda and Chase Cronk; her paternal grandparents, Howard and Shirley Cronk; maternal grandparents, John and Pam Slater as well as her aunts, uncles and cousins: Rich, Shelley, & Ashley Phelps, Keith, Karen, Jaymie Cronk John & Erin Beyette, Danielle, Stephanie Young, and friends. Chelsea was preceded in death by her cousins John and Jacob Phelps. Please visit Chelsea’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a favorite memory or photo of her and sign her online guest book. Memorial donations may be made to DC Strong or the Make-A-Wish Foundation.