Remembering Luke


Submitted to The Simpsonian

Luke Sigler on vacation in Colorado.

by Amelia Schafer, Editor-in-Chief

Missing from this year’s graduating class is Luke Sigler, who would have walked across the stage on April 30 alongside his classmates. 

Luke was a sophomore majoring in graphic design in 2020, only 20 years old when a tumor on the left side of his brain was first detected. 

Despite his struggles with his diagnosis and the loss of function in his right hand, Sigler was determined to keep pursuing art. Luke was ambidextrous but predominantly used his right hand. Once he lost control of his right hand, he fought to continue to draw, paint and create. 

“His tumor was on the left side of his brain, so that affected his right side,” Luke’s mother, Michelle Sigler, said. “And when they took it [the tumor] out with surgery, he worked really hard. He was so determined to get that right hand back because he’s a meticulous artist.”

 The surgery to remove Luke’s tumor was on Feb. 16, 2020, meaning that a month later, his chemotherapy treatments began the same week that the COVID-19 regulations were first implemented. After chemotherapy, Luke lost his right hand again.

“Which was super frustrating, but that kid learned how to do everything in his left hand, and he drew and painted and wrote with his left hand,” Michelle said. “He worked at it for two years. And he got some of it back, but not anywhere close. And he was better with his left hand… With brain injuries; It’s use it or lose it. It’s repetition; you need to do the same thing over and over and over with your hand for your brain to fire new pathways for it to work.”

‘Luke’s Perspective’ Drawn on pencil and paper by Luke Sigler. (Submitted to The Simpsonian)

Luke was even able to put his socks on with his left hand. 

“You try to do that; I can’t do that,” Michelle said. “He was pretty incredible. He was so determined; I mean, he’s been independent from a toddler on – ‘I can do it myself.’ He continued to do that for two years.”

Throughout Luke’s two-year battle, he remained determined.

“Over the two years that we were able to spend with him, I never once saw him defeated or down about it,” Luke’s friend, 2020 alum Ben Christensen said. “He would occasionally become frustrated when there would be a struggle or setback, but he always responded with determination and resilience over choosing resentment. He put his head down every day through all of his treatments and lived life to the fullest ability that he was able to in every capacity. I never saw him without a smile on his face, which was always contagious to everyone around him.”

Sigler was a squirrel lover, a jokester and a croc lover. Above all, he was dedicated to helping his family and friends and passionate about his faith. Luke’s motto was, ‘I am second,’ which indicated that he put Jesus first in his life. Luke wore a bracelet with that slogan every day since middle school. A thin rubber bracelet with black lettering. 

“We all wear them now,” Michelle said. “He and his best friend Ian had always planned on getting tattoos that said, ‘I am second.’ And I didn’t know about this until he was in the hospital.”

Luke’s art hung in his bedroom. Luke was a photographer, a digital artist, an illustrator and a painter. (Submitted to The Simpsonian)

During surgery, Luke wasn’t allowed to wear his bracelet, but his mother made sure he still had his slogan with him.

“I remember when they were taking him back to surgery, they took off his bracelet–you couldn’t have it on–and I was like, ‘I don’t want him going into that room without ‘I am second’ on his body,’” Michelle said. “So I snuck out to the nurse’s station and got a Sharpie on it. The only part I could get to was his arm so I wrote it on his arm. I was like, ‘I gave you a little tattoo.’”

Christensen met Luke his sophomore year while he was rooming with Luke’s older brother, Cole Sigler. The two quickly became incredibly close, a bond that continued over the COVID-19 lockdown. Luke, Cole and Ben bonded over a shared love of games. 

“They had boys’ night every Wednesday that they would play games: video games or board games or card games or whatever,” Michelle said. “They actually continued that virtually for two years. Cole, Ben and Luke would say every Wednesday night was boys’ night. He’d go in his room and play video games, and it was so so good to hear.”

Video games initially brought the group together and were ultimately what was able to continue bringing the group together throughout Luke’s treatments. 

“There were so many nights where Luke and I were able to chill in our apartments and burn time. We binged many shows together, watched sports and played a lot of video games,” Ben said. “Even when Luke had his cancer, Cole, Luke, Dave [their dad] and I would always prioritize playing games at least once or twice every single week. Luke struggled with some of his functions with the left side of his body, but he still always kicked Cole and Dave’s butts no matter what game we played. When Luke and his mom were driving five hours every day for treatment, Luke would still always find the energy to jump on with his friends and game. I appreciate so many memories from the nights that we had at Simpson and the time that we had after he was diagnosed.”

Luke’s humor is one of the most memorable elements of his personality. After his surgery, Luke used his pulse oximeter as an extension to his finger guns. 

“He was so funny all the time; he was so funny. I miss his laugh the most, I think,” Michelle said. 

The Sigler family at Cole’s wedding. (Submitted to The Simpsonian)

During his time on campus, Luke was a member of the Light Company and an avid supporter of the Storm’s soccer teams. 

Senior Katie Murano, who first met Luke in the fifth grade at Dallas Center-Grimes Elementary School, said she was inspired by her friend’s integrity and passion for his faith.

“I am truly just blessed to have known Luke for as long as I did,” Murano said. “Luke was a genuine person to surround yourself with. He was always funny, kind, and lived for the Lord.  He went on a lot of mission trips and he accomplished a lot. I have always been inspired by his faith and how he carried himself.”

Christensen echoed Murano’s sentiments about Luke’s character. 

“Luke was admirably good at sticking to his values,” Christensen said. “No matter any judgment, he would be the person that he wanted to be in every facet. This ranged from his worship, where he would go to Light Company and sit by himself when all of his friends had commitments, not wavering to any pressure of a typical college atmosphere, and to supporting the Simpson soccer teams in 10-degree weather in person.  He knew the person that he wanted to be and what was important to him, and nothing could ever change that.”

After finishing treatment in Nov. 2020, Luke’s scans were clear until July, when a bit of cloudiness appeared in his MRI. 

“We went to Colorado on our vacation this trip, and when we came back, the nurse called and said, ‘Doctor wants to get another MRI in two weeks,’” Michelle said. “So, sure enough, it was back. So we tried chemo again in September and October, and it did nothing.”

Luke underwent treatment with a trial drug in November and December, but there was no improvement. 

“He declined very quickly in December,” Michelle said. “And then we went back for an MRI. Well, I called and said, like, ‘He’s not okay.’ He couldn’t walk; it was horrendous. Then they did an MRI on Jan. 3 and said, ‘Nothing’s working, and nothing’s going to work; it’s time for hospice.’ And he was so miserable at that point – like miserable. I just wanted him to not be miserable.”

Luke died on Feb. 6, 2022, after a long and hard-fought battle against brain cancer. 

In the future, Luke’s friends are hopeful that his art can be displayed somewhere on campus, and that his impact on campus can be commemorated.

“Luke was an artist and he came to school for art,” Murano said. “I think if his work could somehow be displayed on campus, that would be an amazing honor. I tried to get Luke some sort of degree or award for his time at Simpson. Luke put in a lot of hard work towards his education here so I just hope that his family can accept some sort of honor on his behalf.”