2 Timothy 4:7-8 - I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.
If you were told today that you had cancer, how would that change your life? Would you appreciate all the moments you have and do things you always wanted to do? Would you hug your loved ones tighter and say the things you knew you needed to say? Would you wake up each day thankful just to be alive?
Dawn Marie Vang (age 44) was greeted with Jesus's open arms on November 4, 2022 after a 2 ½ year battle with stage IV Melanoma. She spent her final weeks comforting everyone who loved her and assuring them she was at peace. She didn’t wait for a cancer diagnosis to savor the gift of life, and neither should you.
Born on January 20, 1978 to Robert Stuyvenberg and Cheryl Stuyvenberg, Dawn graduated from Appleton East High School in 1997. In 2002 she met her soul mate, Lee Vang and married him on August 8, 2003. Dawn and Lee were meant to be together. They had four beautiful children, Ian, Ella, Isaac and Owen who truly were her greatest joys in life. Dawn loved her life, and she LOVED being a mom. She fought long and hard to get every day she could with Lee and her kids.
Dawn served in customer service at Fox River Fiber. She was so good at her job and loved working until her illness no longer made it possible. She treasured holiday traditions and always made sure they were extra memorable for the kids. She looked forward to decorating for the holidays, especially Christmas, and often did so way earlier than necessary. Dawn adamantly instructed Ian recently: “The tree will go up this year, and the earlier the better!”
Although not a savvy traveler by any means, she said she loved it nonetheless. Dawn cherished memories of a post high school graduation trip to Paris with her best friend Sarah where she spent two weeks eating Snickers bars and hot dogs. The only thing she gobbled down faster than that were her favorite Potbelly subs. Their final trip as a family was to Riviera Maya in the spring of 2021. Dawn was so happy to make memories with the kids that would give them something to smile about long after she was gone. Rounding out some of her favorite traveling escapades was dancing on the beach in Florida with crazy friends who were masterful at making her unwind and let loose.
Faith and family were the cornerstones of everything Dawn did, but she also looked forward to fun times with friends. She loved cheering at the kids’ sporting events, and she so appreciated the friendships she made along the way. Dawn had a unique way of making each friend feel like the favorite. She loved sitting on couches in driveways under a blanket around a makeshift fire pit, listening to music, talking, laughing and most of all making memories that could be talked about at the next gathering.
For some people, cancer is something they either succumb to or just try to survive. For Dawn, it led to her true calling of sharing her faith and inspiring so many others to search for God.
While cancer stole her body, it did not steal her spirit. In true Dawn fashion, almost up to the end, she would open her beautiful blue eyes, light up the entire block with her larger-than-life smile and include a myriad of swear words in her musings. The courage, positivity and unwavering faith she demonstrated even in the darkest hours has everyone who knows her striving to be more like Dawn.
In addition to her husband and children, left behind to miss her dearly are her parents, Robert Stuyvenberg and Cheryl Stuyvenberg; mother-in-law Ta Vang; siblings Robert Stuyvenberg, JoAnn Stuyvenberg (Ben Trauger) and Adam Stuyvenberg; siblings-in-law Pla (Shia) Yang, Lue (Krystal) Vang, Jimmy (Panyia) Vang, Bee (Rachel) Vang, Tou Yer (Jennifer) Vang and Pangnia (Bee) Xiong along with numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who all held a piece of her enormous heart.
Eager to nestle into her lap in heaven was infant son Elliot Vang. Also there to welcome her were her father-in-law Blayao Vang as well as grandparents Shirley and Jack Timm and Joan and James Stuyvenberg.
The celebration of Dawn's life will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, November 12, 2022, at Wichmann Funeral Home, 537 N Superior St. Appleton with Rev. Chou Xiong, from Living Stone Alliance Church presiding. Dawn had recently been baptized there, and she found a quiet comfort in the way the community embraced her as she navigated the end of her long journey. Visitation will take place from 9:00 am until the time of service. Reception to follow immediately at the funeral home.
Dawn’s Hail Mary clinical trial in New York City was costly and depleted the family savings, but it also brought her contentment knowing that she had done everything she could to buy more time with her family. Instead of flowers, donations to the family would be appreciated.
What would Dawn’s parting message be? She would tell all of us to enjoy each day, complain less, look for the positives in every situation and say the things that need to be said. Most of all, she would say to make memories because those last forever.
Please don’t cry just because we had to part. As long as you remember me, I will live on in your heart. –Joe Green