Noelle Walker

Celebration of Life for Taylor Helland

A thousand people packed the Mansfield First United Methodist Church to celebrate the life of 19-year-old Taylor Helland.

Helland passed away February 20 after a five year battle with colon cancer.

"She didn't let cancer define who she is," said her mother, Julia Helland. "She was more than cancer."

The service started with a song titled, "Joy". Joy was Taylor's mantra.

Guests held up paper butterflies in a bright yellow color as the pastor explained how a yellow butterfly circled around the family during Helland's burial. The paper butterflies had the words "choose joy" printed on them. 

"She just said 'I want you to be happy,'" her mother explained. "And so I'm going to be."

The pews were packed with Taylor's TCU Chi Omega sorority sisters, friends, family, and those who had followed the teenager's five year battle with a rare form of colon cancer. 

"I think Taylor beat cancer by living," said NBC 5 reporter Julie Fine, who chronicled Taylor's journey through cancer and remission over the last couple of years. "You walk away from some stories a better reporter," Fine said. "I walked away from this one a better person." 

In previous reports, Taylor had her trademark smile and joyful disposition. "I know I'm going to beat this," she told Fine.

In a way, Helland is still fighting cancer. She donated her DNA to a cancer research study and worked to encourage others to do the same so that one day another teenager won't have to face the same battle she did. 

"I believe she's in a better place and she has no pain," Julia said. "But I'm going to miss her."

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