Columbia Falls High School senior Taylor Peterson, whose battle with cancer galvanized the community, died Monday at her Columbia Falls home.
Taylor, 17, succumbed to jaw-bone cancer that spread throughout her body. She had been diagnosed a year and a half ago and underwent eight months of extensive treatment.
But Taylor was given a grim prognosis in late November by doctors at the renowned Mayo Clinic, who said she had only a couple of months to live. Those months became just a couple of weeks as her condition worsened faster than anyone expected.
Taylor traveled to the Bitterroot Valley on Saturday to watch Columbia Falls basketball teams compete. Friends said the trip was daunting for her, and a gathering planned for Taylor on Sunday at the high school was canceled.
Grief counseling for students will be available at the high school. Services for Peterson are pending with Columbia Mortuary.
Taylor was under hospice care, and friends and family members were at her side Monday when she died.
The community had rallied to raise more than $50,000 to grant Taylor’s last wish of taking a trip to Hawaii with a good friend and her father, Chuck Peterson.
A fundraiser organized by Tien’s Place Oriental Dining was the springboard for what became an extraordinary outpouring of support from people throughout Northwest Montana and high school students from as far away as Frenchtown and Eureka.
The money raised now will be used to help the family defray medical expenses, and a memorial scholarship fund in her name is being considered.