During this Holy Week of Easter, it is fitting that we remember the life of Kristine Brassie and the message she left to all of us before her passing. Kristine touched the lives of many in the community. Even those that only had spoken with her a few times felt lucky to have known this amazing woman. I recently had the privilege to speak at length with her mother, Mary Ann Pierce, who gave me a glimpse into her daughter’s extraordinary life.
It’s a life that, amazingly, began before Kristine was born. Some time ago, Kristine was speaking to a friend who does Energy Medicine. Out of the blue, she asked Kristine if her mother had a difficult birth with her. She then proceeded to tell Kristine that when it was time for Kristine to be born, she did not want to leave God. Astounded, when Kristine got home, she called her mom and asked her about the birth. Mary Ann told Kristine the story of Kristine’s birth. Like any other expectant mom, when Mary Ann went into lbor, she set off for the hospital. Once there, the labor continued and then when the contractions were about five minutes apart, they abruptly stopped. Mary Ann was sent home (they didn’t induce back in those days) and it wasn’t until 3 weeks later that Kristine was finally born.
Ever since she was young, Kristine had the undeniable ability to put a smile on everyone’s face. After her first experience with a cancer diagnosis in college, she became even more dedicated to making everyone she met know how special and important they were. As many know, Kristine had a way of making everyone feel like she was their best friend. She made it her life’s work to help others in any way she could, no matter how big or small.
Upon graduating high school, Kristine had offers to play hockey at multiple Division 1 schools. Due to her father’s illness (he was waiting for a liver transplant), she applied, without telling her parents, to play Division 3 hockey at RIT in order to be closer to home and be able to support her family. Six months after her father’s transplant, she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. RIT was gracious enough to allow her to do an independent study so she could stay on her parent’s insurance and she went to school when she could. Through her father’s health issues, she learned that there were two attitudes you could have – you can either pity yourself or you can live every day to the fullest with gratitude. As her dad did, she chose the latter. The doctor’s told her she might lose her hair, she might not be able to have treatment every week depending on her test results and because of her cancer, she might never be able to have children. She told them that cancer has this period of her life and not any more of her life after that. She was determined to beat it the way she wanted to and throughout her treatment, she didn’t lose all of her hair and she went to treatment every week. Later in life, she continued to prove this diagnosis wrong and gave birth to 4 beautiful children.
After beating cancer and with her new outlook on life, she took on the volunteer role in earnest during the rest of her college career. At that time, volunteering was not part of a student athlete’s life at RIT like it is now. This change is thanks in part to Kristine. She not only became the first woman to be presented with the annual Hockey National Humanitarian Award but she was the first to win this award from a Division 3 school.
Even with the busy life as a wife and mother to 4 children, she always found time to help others. Many I have spoken with during the past week conveyed stories of people she had given support and comfort to when they needed it most. To help others live life to the fullest as she did, she started a business to help others live with “Power, Purpose and Joy,” which would eventually become her mantra. She obtained certifications as a Life Coach, Recovery Coach, Holistic Cancer Coach and had recently just finished getting a certification as a Health Coach from the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy in California. Kristine believed that functional medicine and traditional medicine could work together to aid in healing.
After being diagnosed with cancer for a second time, Kristine’s biggest fear was letting other’s down. She had fully-booked classes as a life coach and didn’t want to disappoint those students in addition to those who kept encouraging her that she could beat cancer just like she had done before. After being someone who had spent their life caring and supporting others, she found it hard to be the recipient of this. This time around, she chose an alternative treatment based on what she had learned from her successful business. This treatment seemed to be working but unbeknownst to all, her immune system was compromised as she had developed sepsis, most likely from an earlier hospital stay.
As Kristine became weaker, her mom said instead of a cancer warrior, she became a warrior for God. During one of her last days, her mother recalls Kristine becoming frantic trying to tell her something. She was wearing a mask, so it was hard to understand what she saying so a nurse removed it to allow her to tell her mother what she needed to. Kristine said, “MOM, I SAW GOD AND HE IS AMAZING! GOD IS ALIVE! From that time on, she told this to every person she encountered. She felt so comforted by this vision that she became ready to go home to God. Every time she would awaken, she would be saddened that she was still on Earth. Even in her pain, Kristine’s top priority was making sure others, especially her family, could feel her comfort and happiness. She told her family that her work was done on Earth and she was going to continue her work in Heaven because that was where she could best accomplish it.
The family would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support they have received over the past months and especially over the past couple of weeks. If there is one thing Kristine wanted everyone to know, it is that God Is Alive and to understand the true meaning of live is doing things for others and not expecting anything in return.
A Community Remembers…
“A true angel…. I had the privilege calling her a friend, a special friend that guided me to try and be the best parent, wife and friend myself. She was beyond amazing! Hockey was a sport she undeniably loved. The boys begged her to coach them just one year. They figured if they could get her back on the ice they would have her forever. She knew that was true and would graciously giggle, yet almost pause to contemplate the suggestion. Going over to the Brassies meant fun, laughs, deep discussions about perseverance and having grit, but most of all meant Mrs. Brassie kicking her shoes off, moving the kitchen table out of the way and playing knee hockey with the boys. She didn’t know it, but I so admired her ability to live in the moment. My memories are abundant and will be reminded everyday as the sun rises…to live in the moment!” – Patti Meehan
“We all probably have no more than a handful of people that have inspired us. Earlier this week 4 children lost their Mum. I have had the privilege through coaching or driving them to and from school of getting to know them. This morning at 6.50am the four children were lined up, as always, at the end of their driveway in age order. They greeted me as always with smiles and a hearty good morning. They also handed me a cup of hot English breakfast tea as their Mum so often did. As the children left the bus the sight of their classmates making eye contact, a touch a smile an arm or a greeting made me realize what a great community this is. The 4 children showed bravery, strength and courage with a dignity that belies their years. Dad and especially Mum may rest easy and need not question the remarkable people that the Brassie children are and will become. Thank you for your inspiration.” – Glen Buckley
“Your unbounded spirit, love of life, zest for life and gift of life was a treasure like no other person. My heart is broken, yet I know I am so blessed. My gratitude for our friendship will never end. We shared so many walks and talks together, so many thoughts about EVERYTHING, so many smiles, so many miles…through our travel across and around the country to learn and grow in our common passion…….serving and inspiring others, so many meals together………….so many experiences in all facets of life. We shared our faith together. We had a bond that transcended our personal lives and passions and the lives of our family. In all things we did and pursued, we were bonded. Our most recent bond came on January 1st of this year, when we were gifted the sharing of our office space. This will forever be a sacred space for me. God surely had a hand in bringing this chapter together in our life. I am humbled and in awe of what God has given me in the friendship from you. You inspire me each and every day.” – Laura Villanti