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UNC Fan With Terminal Cancer Sets, Reaches Goal Of Attending Carolina-Duke

In sports, there are different levels of fandom. Meredith Legg Stapleton's love for North Carolina basketball might deserve its own classification.

Stapleton, who had been fighting cancer for nearly five years, was told in late January that she had just one month left to live. According to Adam Lucas of goheels.com, who wrote an incredibly moving piece on her story, Stapleton made two goals upon hearing the news - attend the UNC-Duke game at Chapel Hill, and make it to her 27th birthday. 

Stapleton had previously been gifted tickets to the game back on December 21st, but when her family learned of her diagnosis on January 23rd, they returned them for someone else to use. That didn't fly.

As soon as she found out, she demanded them back. She wanted to see them and hold them and have a tangible goal. She was going to the Carolina-Duke game, and no matter what anybody with a stethoscope said, she was going to the Carolina-Duke game. The tickets were returned to her. She kept them where she could see them.

As you remember, the game was postponed eight days due to snow and ice in the area, making it more difficult for Stapleton to live out her dream. The day before the rescheduled game was supposed to take place, she had to have a seven-hour blood transfusion. The day of the game, she had to have nine pounds of fluid drained from her abdomen. None of it stopped her from attending.

She sat in the front row of section 125. Her family had secured two tickets there and two tickets across the court, so they split up. In the first half, Christopher (her husband) sat across from her, and as the rest of the arena obsessed over every dribble and every shot, and as the entire country watched the game on ESPN, he was six rows away from the action and found that he could not take his eyes off his wife. 

Physically, she could barely make it through the game, due to the pain. But she saw the Tar Heels stage a great comeback to knock off their hated rival. She also witnessed a court-storming, got a kiss from Phil Ford, met Dick Vitale and was gifted Jay Bilas' game notes.

Sadly, Meredith passed away this past Monday, just over a week shy of her 27th birthday. While she only reached one of her two goals, she's left us with an amazing story about perseverance that college basketball fans will surely never forget.