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Katherine “Kate” Lax


Our cancer fighting unicorn Katherine (Kate) Marie Joan-Ling Lum Lax peacefully passed away in her sleep surrounded by family on Thursday, January 12, 2023, after nearly doubling her original brain cancer prognosis. Her journey was not easy, and yet she handled each step with unwavering kindness, love,  and grace.

Kate grew up in Lowell, MI making fast friends throughout her childhood who have remained “forever friends” to this day and beyond. Lansing, MI was like a second home, where Kate and her brother Kai spent days with cousins at the family restaurant and learning family traditions from their PoPo. During summers, Kate, friends and family would gather at Granny’s house on Murray Lake for days in the water and evenings at the bonfire.

When she graduated from high school, Kate fulfilled her dream of attending MSU, and somehow ended up dating and eventually marrying Dave (a Wolverine). They moved together to California and enjoyed several carefree years of sunshine. Shortly after marrying, Kate and Dave settled back to Grand Rapids, MI which has been their home ever since. The two have a beautiful daughter Evelynn, who is truly Kate’s passion, inspiration, and motivation to make the world a better place.

Throughout Kate’s life, she had a calling for service to others. It was no surprise when she began and excelled in her career as a fundraiser for non-profit institutions, eventually making her way back to her alma mater MSU in the College of Human Medicine. After Kate’s original brain cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2020, her illness prevented her from continuing her career, but her passion for service burned bright. Kate made it her mission over the past several years to investigate environmental causes of brain cancer in an effort to leave the world a safer, healthier place for future Red Arrows..

As symptoms of her illness started appearing, Kate continued to wake up every morning with a smile and warm greeting to each and every caregiver, family member, and friend.  Her memory is cherished by her husband Dave Lax, daughter Evelynn Lax, mother Kim Lum, father Wing Foo Lum, brother Kai Lum, nephews Carter and Chase Merritt, and niece Maelynn Lum and countless other family and friends. We know that those who went before her will welcome her into heaven with open arms.

Private services will be held by the family. A public celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the MSU College of Human Medicine Cancer Research Fund (see for more information).

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24 Responses

  1. She truly was an amazing mother and soul in general. You will be missed Kate ????

  2. Mrs Lum and family,
    Big hugs. I loved when Kate would come visit our classroom because she was so kind and you always beamed when she was there. May her legacy continue to change the world for Ms. Evelynn

  3. My deepest condolences Kim and family. You have lost a jewel in your crown but heaven has gained an angel.

    Be consoled, it’s easy to say I know but she has gone to a better place and it’s for us left behind to grieve.

    However, we all, in some fashion, know that we remain together, just not in this usual realm.

    God bless you all. May her soul rest in perfect peace.

  4. What a beautiful obituary! A short life, filled with love and purpose. Prayers for all who loved her!

  5. I have no words for such a huge loss❤️❤️❤️ for everyone that knew her and loved her. She was an amazing human. It was an honor to have known her.

  6. Kim, Wing Foo, Dave and Families,

    Our deepest sympathy in losing your special, sweet and inspirational Katie. Though I did not know her, from the Facepook posts I have been following these last months, I know she was a woman of integrity, warmth, and kindness. Please be consoled in knowing that she positively touched so many lives during her short life.

    Our love and sympathy,
    Rick and Carol Briggs

  7. Kai, we never met your sister but reading about her life and knowing you were a big part of it, she sounds like a wonderful and caring person. I’m sure she will always be remembered. She is lucky to have Uncke Kai to help love and guide her daughter Evelynn.

  8. Dave, Evelynn, Kim, Wing Foo, Kai and family. There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing Kate was. She was such an incredible friend, and will never be forgotten. Much love to you all.

    Kathy & Jane

  9. Dear Kim,
    I know there are no words to help you at this time and I didn’t know your beautiful Kate but from everything I have heard and read about her she sounds like she was a wonderful human being, a terrific daughter, caring wife and loving mom. Losing a loved one so young is heart breaking. My only words I can share with you is to cherish every good memory and Kate will be with you in your heart forever. Sending hugs and prayers for you and her family.

  10. Sorry for your loss. Kate was always kind, open and friendly. She was a great neighbor and will be missed.

  11. Absolutely beautiful and eloquent obituary for Kate. She will be missed by so many lives she impacted during her experience here with us.

  12. Continued prayers for you all. She was a bright light and a constant reminder of all that is possible despite a very hard diagnosis. Her optimism and determination seemed unmatched! She fought hard and wow’d us all. Kim, we are thinking and praying for you. I am confident Mom gave her a huge hug the second she arrived upstairs! Xoxo

  13. Kim, Dave and family;
    Hugs to all of you. I am so very sorry for your loss….beyond any words.
    I remember Kate from when our kids were in jr.high, eighth grade dance and youth group….so many memories with Matt in high school and MSU.
    We all love her and have been in our prayers since her first diagnosis.
    Praying for peace for all of you during this difficult time.

  14. To Kate’s Family,
    Kate has always been a terrific and beautiful person. She will forever be in my thoughts and my heart ♥.

  15. We are so sorry for your loss. Kate was such a kind, friendly and fun soul. She will be missed.

  16. To Dave, Ev, and family,
    I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. From what little I knew about Kate- I could tell she was an amazing mom, wife, and person. You will all be in my prayers

  17. Kate and I have #brainbuddies in the past couple of years – both former fundraisers for MSU, Kate and Katie, both diagnosed with brain tumors (different diagnosis). Kate had 2 craniotomies early on, of which I luckily didn’t require. But, as we both endured a year of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation, Kate, me and Maria (our 3rd #brain buddy) texted very often. It was helpful to have friends to talk through things with – we compared side effects, discussed our feelings, how our partners were coping, therapy, etc. Kate was a few months ahead of me in her process and always fearlessly cleared the path ahead for me. I’ve been “feeling the feels” and reading back through some of our early texts when we discovered our renewed connection. She said, “it has been such a crazy world already to know another person walking this path—it won’t be the same and who knows where it will lead either of us but already it has been incredible to have a person in living the unknown.” Unknown, indeed. Kate always had positive sentiments to share, and she often said things like, “One day, sometimes one minute at a time! We are fierce and we have amazing people in both of our lives supporting us—and inspiring us to face these circumstances head on and conquer our fears!” We would often exchange positive quotes or little messages of support.
    Kate’s whole focus during the past couple of years was to try to stay as present as possible to enjoy the time with Dave and Ev. Kate was an awesomely special human being, and I know that I’m not alone in feeling honored to have known her.
    When she got the news this summer that her scans were not going well, and that her team was moving toward looking at trials, she texted Maria and me about her options going forward and she said “hug your partner close and tell them you love them a lot. That is all that matters.”
    So, in honor of Kate, let’s do just that – hug your family and try to stay present. It’s all that really matters.

  18. Dear Family and Friends of Kate,

    I am so sorry for your loss. When I think of Kate, my mind thinks of Katie Lum: class president, fun, funny, kind, friend to everyone, a fantastic student, and someone to admire. There are never enough words to sum up anyone’s life, and somehow the words do not even feel special enough for those we love. But those that had a relationship with Katie will remember more than just descriptive words of her life. We will have memories of who she was and how her person touched our lives in big and small ways. I am thankful to have known her and known of her. She will be missed. Big hugs and prayers for you all.

  19. While it’s been many years since calling Michigan home, I recall Katie’s genuine, joyful, and truly kind nature vividly. Her easy acceptance and welcoming smile brightened many days, showcasing a rare depth of compassion. The love she held for, and inspires in, others is a remarkable legacy.

    The loss of such a bright light is difficult to reconcile. I’ll be holding her and all those who loved her close in my heart and prayers.

  20. Dear Mary Jo, I am so sorry for your loss. May God bless you all with strength.
    Mary Beth Brady

  21. Kate often thanked me for giving her something beautiful to look at on a tough day. Did she know she gave us beautiful things to look at with regularity? I hope so. Her heart, her smile and her attitude about life were all stunning.

  22. Although I never met her, just by reading people’s condolence messages, the world is a much dimmer place with her not in it!
    Prayers for her family and friends! She’s celebrating with all of those who passed before her in heaven…pain and cancer free!
    Thank you for making such a difference on this earth…it definitely was not long enough!????

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Make a Contribution

Memorial Gifts

MSU College of Human Medicine Cancer Research Fund

(see for more information)