Nineteen days before her 19th birthday, Bettendorf’s Charly Erpelding departed this earth, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022.

“Andy and I got to see her off to heaven in our arms reassuring her and letting her know how much we love her, and the unending pride we have in her,” Charly’s mom Tara Erpelding posted on Facebook. “She was brave and courageous as she’s always been. Our hearts are shattered, but we do take comfort in the many stories you’ve shared of how she’s touched your lives, just as she has touched ours.”

Charly Erpelding, 18, lost her battle with cancer on Oct. 10, 2022.

Charly was 8 years old when she battled Ewing’s Sarcoma and won. Unfortunately, after eight years, she had a recurrence of her bone cancer, and her recent treatment was not proving effective, and Charly decided to let go. 

Her visitation will be at 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Bettendorf High School Gym (3333 18th St.) on Saturday, Oct. 15th. Her funeral Mass will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16th at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Bettendorf.

Charly Erpelding with her parents, Tara and Andy.

“It was a privilege to share our little girl with you over the past 11 years,” Tara Erpelding posted on Oct. 10. “Your support and prayers helped our family more then you will ever know. If we could pick how Charly would be remembered it would be below. Her words soak into our soul, I hope they do the same for yours. Until that perfect day we see you again baby girl, we will love each other and make you proud. We will miss you endlessly, Charly. Love, Will, Mom & Dad.”

Of the 633 comments posted by Wednesday morning, Kelly McConnell Matthys wrote: “Our hearts are breaking with you and your family. Charly is by far the strongest, bravest and most inspiring person I’ve ever met. Thank you for sharing your daughter and her wise words and outlook on life with us, she just continues to inspire us all to be more grateful and to be better people.”

Jerry Higgins wrote: “There are no words to explain the impact that Charly and your family has had on us. Charly showed us how to live our life based on how she lived her life.”

Keeping a positive attitude

At her 2022 Bettendorf High graduation ceremony last spring, Charly spoke about how her positive mindset helped her fight cancer for the second time.

Charly spoke at her 2022 Bettendorf High School graduation.

“Whether it was chemotherapy, radiation or letting my Dad shave my head for the second time in my life, my positive mindset helped me through,” she said. “My second secret to keeping my attitude in check is simply allowing myself to rely on those around me.

“This means not only asking for help, but being able to say, ‘I can’t do this on my own and that’s OK’,” Charly said. “As teenagers, we often feel the hunger to push away others around us in order to feel a sense of independence.

“What we do not realize is that every person — regardless of their age, gender or status — needs to ask for help too,” she said. “We are all humans and we all require a little guidance.”

This year, Charly said she made the biggest choice of her life — “the choice to keep fighting cancer even when my chances were unknown and my options were limited,” she said at the ceremony. “I made my decision based on the foundational belief that it is essential to meet every obstacle with perseverance and integrity.”

Charly fought cancer twice, once at age 8, then during high school.

Earlier this month, after a routine CT scan for the clinical trial in St. Louis, Charly’s family learned that the chemo and experimental drug the 18-year-old was taking were not working. Her cancer had progressed significantly in a short timeframe.

The family was faced with a difficult decision and understood that the ultimate decision was Charly’s.

“Without hesitation, and with all the grace in the world, she calmly explained to Tara and Will and me, that she fought as long and as hard as she could, and that she was now ready and at peace to stop any further treatment,” her father posted on Facebook. “Charly calmly explained it was time to end the fight and she is 100% at peace with her decision, no question.”