top of page

Sebastian Terrell Passes Away After Fight with Leukemia


January 1, 2019

Jennifer Lynn Greenway

Sebastian (Seb) Terrell, a Tompkins High 2018 graduate, passed away on Friday, December 28 after a hard-fought battle with leukemia.

Sebastian Terrell lived in Katy and attended Katy ISD schools since he was in Kindergarten.

Terrell participated in all sports growing up but at Tompkins High School, he was a standout athlete in track and football and was known for his muscular physique. During his sophomore year, Terrell scored a 66-yard touchdown against Seven Lakes leading Tompkins to their first win. Off the field, he was fun, giving, caring, one-of-a-kind, spunky, strong, and vibrant; all the things that parents pray that their children grow up to be.

Sudden Illness

In July 2017, Terrell began throwing up with what he thought was a stomach bug. After a night of severe stomach pain and throwing up black liquid, he was taken to the emergency room. Doctors discovered a perforated stomach ulcer. The ulcer caused doctors to run many more tests discovering that Terrell had leukemia. Up until this time, he exhibited no signs of illness. Terrell faced cancer head on with determination and never gave up the fight.

(Before diagnosis, the Terrell family enjoyed family vacations together to places all over the world. Family vacation in 2016...Sebastian, Meghan, A.J. & Annabel)

A Hard Fought Battle

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), which is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow, was the diagnosis. This type of cancer is very aggressive with a survival rate of 26% at the five year mark. Terrell was treated at MD Anderson in the Houston Medical Center spending a majority of this treatment in the hospital.

In February 2018, Terrell completed his treatment and “rang the bell” celebrating his recovery. He was ready to finish his senior year of high school and be a normal teenager again. Sadly, a month later, the leukemia returned.

Terrell Tough

Through the tough times, friends and family say Terrell kept his great sense of humor. At one point, he decided to dye his hair pink before losing it all in the next round of treatment. A Facebook group "Terrell Tough" was formed with the onset of the relapse giving friends and supporters daily updates on his heath and other adventures. The page eventually led to almost 1,000 followers.

Graduating With His Class

Thanks to the Houston ISD homebound program at MD Anderson and Matt Copeland, a coach at Tompkins, Terrell was able to graduate from high school. Proudly, he walked across the stage in May of 2018 alongside his Tompkins friends and classmates. The applause began as Terrell slowly approached the stage to receive his diploma (wearing a medical mask due to his compromised immune system.) The auditorium erupted into an thunderous show of support as Terrell's name was announced and continued as he crossed the stage of the Merrell Center.

Treatment and Relapses

On June 19, 2018, Terrell received a bone marrow transplant from a donor in Germany. Although the transplant was successful, Terrell suffered another relapse in July 2018, resulting in more long term hospital stays. After the July relapse, doctors began chemotherapy to attempt to get him into temporary remission so he could receive a second bone marrow transplant. Terrell stayed at MD Anderson since September where he received daily whole blood, platelet and plasma transfusions on top of other care plans.

Despite his illness, Terrell was determined to lead as normal a life as possible. In August, he began his own clothing design business called Deadheaven offering original hoodies, t-shirts, and other items for sale.

From birth, Terrell was surrounded by animals and shared a special bond with each of them. In October, Magnolia, a pet therapy dog, became part of Terrell's life. Due to his continued hospital stay, they did not spend as much time together as possible but each moment brought a smile to his face. Magnolia was cleared for a few overnight stays at MD Anderson.

(Sebastian Terrell with his therapy dog, Magnolia)

Terrell's Final Fight

In the past few months, Terrell's health declined rapidly as he continued to fight the disease. The chemotherapy trials did not stop the progression of the leukemia and in December, Terrell contracted pneumonia.

On December 27 at 11:43 pm, the family asked for privacy because Terrell's health was failing with various infections occurring on top of the leukemia. Twelve hours later on December 28, 2018 at 12:07 pm the post read, "Sebastian passed away this morning. Our hearts are broken." Terrell passed away holding his mother's hand.

A Devoted Friend to Many

Terrell spent his senior year mostly in the hospital and was never able to attend school with his friends but throughout the year, the friends were frequently by his side and loved Seb like a brother.

(Visit with friends on December 20)

McGrath Norris, one of Terrell's earliest and best friends posted a tribute. "The one thing that I admired about Seb the most, excluding his superior athletic ability, was simply how much he cared," wrote Norris. "Anybody that was close to him would agree that he had the biggest heart. Seb was the most loyal friend I could’ve ever asked for. Seb wasn’t my friend, he was my brother."

(Sebastian and McGrath)

"Seb’s life touched so many people's hearts and his battle with cancer was a testament of his strength, because boy did he put up a fight. I’m so proud of Seb, and I can’t wait to see him again."

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 12, 2019 at the Schmidt Funeral Home Grand Parkway Chapel, in Katy, with Chaplain Stephen Findley officiating. A reception will follow in the reception suite.

In leu of flowers, the family is asking that a donation be made in Terrell's honor, to one of the following organizations that helped the family during this battle,

To read the obituary in its entirety, click here.


bottom of page