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My beautiful daughter Adriane and her fight with lung cancer


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:( SAN BERNARDINO - When someone as talented, energetic and caring as Adriane Riddle dies at the terribly young age of 20, there are no definitive explanations.Just sorrow, frustration and more questions than answers.

Nevertheless, those closest to her can offer at least one consoling message for the hundreds of friends, family members, doctors, fellow patients and teammates who will honor her memory at a rosary and Mass this morning.

"We found something in the Gospel that seemed perfect' for Adriane, said younger sister Angela. "It's that some people need all the time they can to prove themselves worthy before God. Adriane only needed 20 years. That makes the most sense to us.'

Adriane Riddle a star athlete who, by all accounts, was a brighter star as a person died Monday after a brave and very public two-year battle with cancer. Services will be held at 9:30 a.m. today at Our Lady of Rosary Cathedral, 265 W. 25th St., San Bernardino.

Adriane was a water polo and swimming standout at San Bernardino High School, first playing on the boys team as a freshman before the school formed a girls team her sophomore year. She was a Sierra League champion in four swimming events, led her water polo team to the CIF quarterfinals and participated in a regional Junior Olympic program.

She won a water polo scholarship upon graduation in 2000 to San Jose State University, and was one of two freshmen playing on the varsity team. In May 2001 she was diagnosed lung cancer, and the lung was removed.

On June 7, 2001, her doctors gave her six months to live. She fought the prognosis, like the competitor she was. She endured surgeries, chemotherapy and experimental treatments.

"She never gave up,' said her father, Bruce Riddle. "You'd have to have known her from the time she was about 5 to know how strong she was.

"I remember her falling by the side of the pool when she was so little. I went to pick her up. She said, 'I'm OK. I can do it.' Everything was always like that, 'I'm OK, I can do it.''

Said younger sister Alison, "She had so much will.'

The family was convinced that Adriane's illness was caused by exposure to a building at San Bernardino High, where the honor student took half of her classes. School officials have denied the connection.

The issue has remained a point of contention. It was cited as the main reason Alison transferred to Riverside Poly last year and, after an appeal, was granted a hardship exemption by the CIF to compete in water polo.

Typically feeling responsible, Adriane said at the time, "I'm excited for (Alison). I didn't want to be the reason why she couldn't play water polo. Now I can get rid of the little guilt trip I had.'

Among the treatments Adriane underwent was a drug called Iressa.

"It gave us two years and two days with our daughter, which is a lot better than six months,' said Bruce Riddle, who credited the treatment with shrinking various tumors from her lungs to her brain.

In September, Adriane traveled to Washington, D.C., with her mother, Anita Riddle, to testify before the Food and Drug Administration about her Iressa experience. At the time, she was in remission and feeling stronger. Her story was told in the Nov. 11 issue of Forbes Magazine.

"She wanted the FDA to approve it, so other people could be helped,' said Bruce Riddle.

It wasn't the first or last time Adriane reached out to help others, even while she was dying. She spoke several times to other cancer patients, including those in the children's ward at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Fontana.

"She was really good speaking to the kids,' said her father. "She was one heroic girl.'

Adriane left San Jose State to fight her illness. But when it went into remission, she enrolled at Cal State San Marcos and attended for a semester, continuing to live her life.

None of her "chin up' attitude surprises her family and friends. Adriane's career plans included being a special-education teacher, said sister Angela.

"She was so much like an angel, the perfect kid, and I'm not saying that because I'm a younger sister,' said Angela. "She never smoked or drank. She had her life laid out. She was always goal-oriented. This was a girl who was going somewhere.'

People noticed. Troy Delmonico is a special-education teacher at Redlands High School who previously taught at San Bernardino High. He helped coach Adriane in water polo. She also taught him.

"As a young coach when I was developing a philosophy, I saw Adriane as the kind of player I would look for,' said Delmonico. "I never had a player work harder boy or girl than her, in practice or knowing how to get ready for a game.'

She ended up as one of his teaching assistants, developing her interest in special education.

Dave Smith, her head water polo coach at San Bernardino High, said he appreciated her more as a person when she came back home to help him coach Angela and Alison one season. He got to know her as something other than a great athlete.

"I always knew she was a huge competitor, but when she was fighting the cancer, it really showed how much heart she had,' he said. "Testifying in front of the FDA she was more interested in humanity than herself.'

Her boyfriend of 3 years, Nic Simental, said the first thing he noticed was "a radiance about her. You could tell right off she was special.'

He said she wasn't one to complain or feel sorry for herself, but she did "have her moments.'

"She didn't like seeing others being reckless with their lives. Smoking upset her. She didn't understand why people would poison themselves,' Simental said.

The unfairness of it never made her bitter.

"Up to her last day, she was so thoughtful,' Angela said. "I was helping her walk and she turned and said, 'Thank you.' She was being polite.'

Delmonico expects Adriane will have been an inspiration to almost everyone who attends today's Mass and rosary.

"She doesn't have anything else to prove on Earth,' said Delmonico. "I have an 8-month-old daughter. I hope she has the same qualities Adriane had.'

Gregg Patton can be reached by phone at (909) 386-3856, by fax at (909) 885-8741 or by e-mail at gregg.patton@sbsun.com .

Aquatics star loses battle CANCER: San Bernardino grad Adriane Riddle dies two years after being given six months to live.




Adriane Riddle testified in support of the cancer drug Iressa before the FDA.

A brilliant light that illuminated the lives of so many people flickered out Monday as former San Bernardino aquatics star Adriane Lucile Riddle lost her two-year battle with cancer.

"Adriane definitely touched a lot of lives," said her mother, Anita Riddle, by phone Tuesday. "She was put on this earth for a reason."

Adriane Riddle, 20, a 2001 graduate of San Bernardino High, is also survived by two sisters, both water polo players: Alison at Riverside Poly and Angela at San Jose State. Both sisters also played at San Bernardino High.

"Just a short time that the (Riverside Poly) girls spent with Adriane is going to be a positive experience for them," said Marc Dubuisson, Alison's water polo coach at Riverside Poly. "The whole family is so strong, it's amazing."

Riddle attended many of her Alison's matches at Riverside Poly this past season. Dubuisson said he plans to put together a memorial scholarship in Adriane's memory in the future.

Riddle originally had been given six months to live after she was diagnosed with lung cancer on June 7, 2001.

"Her endurance to fight and her faith in God is what really helped her along," her mother said. Riddle underwent numerous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments and participated in trials of experimental anti-cancer drugs.

"All of her doctors called me and told me what a difference she made in their lives," her mother said. "When we went for treatment she never, ever had a sad look on her face, she always had a smile."

The stress that Riddle's health problems put on her family was a factor in the California Interscholastic Federation granting her sister Alison a rare hardship waiver to allow her to transfer from San Bernardino to Riverside Poly in October.

The Riddle family was convinced that a building at San Bernardino High was the cause of Adriane's cancer and that belief prompted the transfer request out of concern for Alison's health, her family said in phone interviews in October.

"We think it's a safe school," San Bernardino City Unified School District superintendent Art Delgado said in a phone interview in October.

Riddle, a granddaughter of former Riverside County sheriff Ben Clark, attended San Jose State on a water polo scholarship in 2001-02 and attended one semester at Cal State San Marcos in 2002 before she became too ill to continue college.

In September, Riddle testified before the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, D.C., in support of the cancer drug Iressa, which the family credits for shrinking her tumors and extending her life.

In March, Adriane suffered a grand mal seizure at Sippy Woodhead Pool while attending one of Alison's water polo matches. But she continued to exercise, travel locally and do things with her family, her mother said.

Last month, after learning her cancer had spread again, Adriane decided to forgo any further treatment, her mother said.

"She said, 'I'm going to give myself permission to cry,' " her mother said. "I told her I respected her and would support her decision."

Riddle spent her last weeks at home, surrounded by family and friends, and under medication to control her pain, her mother said.

Early Monday morning, after slipping into a coma on Saturday, Adriane "just took a breath and was pulled up to heaven by all the angels," her mother said.

Anita Riddle said that the way Adriane lived her life should be an inspiration to others.

"You have to really believe in yourself and you have to strive for your dreams," Anita Riddle said. "You can't let other people tell you how your life is going to go."

Rosary for Adriane will be held Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Rosary Cathedral in San Bernardino, with Mass to follow.

Richard Chaplin can reached by email at rchaplin@pe.com.








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Anita -

As a mom, I can't imagine your grief as I write this. I wish I had an answer to your question, but I don't. I don't know how anyone could get this disease - much less one so young. I am so very sorry for your loss, but after reading your story, I know that you are comforted by your daughter's LIFE.

You will be in my prayers today, that you and your family will keep all of those wonderful memories of Adriane close to your heart in the days ahead. She sounds like a wonderful girl - I will print her story for my teens to read - in inspiration for them - there aren't many out there. God bless -


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Dear Anita,

Thank you for sharing your beautiful Adriane's story with us. She most definately was a survivor of this monsterous disease. It is puzzling though how she got it. My dad may be starting Iressa one day as soon as he is strong enough, I will tell him all about how a wonderful young woman fought to get this drug approved by the FDA. She truly is an inspiration. I am at a loss for words, I dont know what else to say, I just wanted you to know your precious Adriane has touched another person's heart. God Bless you Anita and your wonderful family

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I am so sorry. I think that your other daughter had it right when she said that her sister only needed 20 years to prove of her great magnitude. She touched so many lives and thank you for sharing her story with us. There are many times in my life I would like to summon that crystal ball, to help me answer my why questions. We don't have all of the answers we want and this is where the principal of faith comes in. I don't need to tell you about faith; I think you already know it well. I can see where your beautiful daughter got her strength.

I will be thinking of you today and my prayers are with you and your family.

HUGS, Shelly

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Your precious daughter was a fighter, survivor, and advocate for all lung cancer patients. Her special light shone out to others and will always be a glimmer in your heart. Please know that I am so sorry for your profound loss.

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Dear Anita,

Thank you so much for sharing your daughters story with us. She truely was a very special person. May God comfort you and your family now in your hour of need. You will be in prayers.

May God bless and keep you

Bobmc - NSCLC-stageIIB- left pneumonectomy- 5/2/01

" absolutely insist on enjoying life today!"

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Thank you for sharing your daughter with us. She seems to have had a beautiful radiant soul, far more advanced than her years.

She was so selfless and giving and done so much for others. You have every reason to feel tremendous pride.

Praying for you and your family during these tough times.


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Thanks for letting us in your life, I cannot imagine how hard it would be to lose a child and admire your courage to be able to talk through it.

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