'Our beautiful girl': Beloved Dunlap teen soccer player loses battle to cancer
PEORIA — Tessa Sutton, the beloved Dunlap High School soccer player whose battle with cancer drew support from teams all over central Illinois and beyond, died on Friday afternoon.
"At 3:09 p.m. our beautiful girl passed peacefully surrounded by her family," wrote her parents, Rich and Michelle Sutton, on their Team Tessa Facebook page. "She is no longer in pain. This is how I choose to picture her now. Free from the pain of this world & just blissfully happy, hopefully playing soccer on a beach somewhere. It was our privilege to be your parents for 17 years. Love you sis."
Services:Funeral set for Dunlap soccer player Tessa Sutton
Sutton was diagnosed with a rare malignant chest wall tumor at age 15. Her teammates rallied around her. Opposing teams did fundraisers and some — like a team from Streator, which had never met her — wrote her name on their shoes.
She was battling through treatment and surgery and attempting a comeback when she was re-diagnosed with cancer in 2022. She was moved into hospice on Thursday, after her parents posted this message on the Team Tessa site:
"This is such a difficult post to make. First of all we want to thank our community for the endless, astonishing support and love for Tessa and all of us. It truly holds us up on the worst of our days. To realize Tessa has touched so many lives and is loved by so many is incredible and warms our hearts daily.
"Thanks to the staff here at OSF Children’s Hospital for 'bending' rules and allowing Tessa to see so many friends and family members including her 4-legged friend, Luca. They have all been so wonderful and are working hard to keep Tessa comfortable. They went above and beyond to make her birthday special. I’m sorry I didn’t get pictures of all the visitors she has had.
"We have come to accept that the miracle we had hoped for is not to be, and Tessa’s days are short. It breaks me to write that but it is our reality. We have decided to stop the chemo in hopes of improving her counts and decreasing her need for transfusions. She is alert at times but increasingly less so and sleeps most of the time. She is confused at times and/or has difficulty expressing her thoughts which causes frustration for her. Bringing her home is a possibility but for the time being, we will keep her here where she is receiving great care. Her comfort is our main concern. The OSF Hospice House is also another possibility if some details can be worked out.
"Please keep all of us in your prayers as we navigate this unthinkable time. Our entire family is hurting so much."
Background: Central Illinois rallies around Dunlap soccer player battling cancer
Reaction poured in on social media Friday evening for a player whose battle touched many.
Heaven gained a 5 ⭐️ today. Lots of soccer games, basketball games and car pools, where Tessa would laugh and listen while Mya got her daily word count in. A huge Bradley fan who we could always make blush when her fave player DLO would talk to her. We will miss you #18! pic.twitter.com/wpBC706fsU
— Brian Wardle (@BrianMWardle) March 24, 2023
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men's basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. He can be reached at 686-3206 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.
This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Dunlap soccer player Tessa Sutton dies after cancer battle