Posted on: April 3, 2020
Michelle Bayens Futral (54) died at her home on March 16 after a long battle with breast cancer. She was born Michelle Joanne Bayens, daughter of John and Walda Bayens. She was a mix of European and American due to her Dutch father’s international business career, as her early years were spent in Germany and Turkey as well as Virginia. She earned her baccalaureate degree at Duke University where she was member of Phi Beta Kappa. She received her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Virginia and was inducted into Alpha Omega Honor Society in 1991. Following graduation, she completed residency training in dermatology at the Emory University School of Medicine and achieved board certification in her specialty in 1995. She entered practice with her dear friend Anna Pare’ at Dermatology Consultants until illness forced her retirement in 2012.
These accolades and degrees didn’t define Michelle, and as she was fond of saying, neither did her cancer. She had survived thyroid cancer two decades earlier, and in 2007 Michelle began her long journey to survive the breast cancer that after 13 years took her life. But she lived two lifetimes in that period. She chose to look beyond her diagnosis and see it as a gift. She seized every opportunity to learn and experience. She mastered growing of orchids, she climbed peaks of 10,000+ even on skis as well as on foot in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, and even learned to back country ski, dragging her family along to seize the day. She mentored many woman and men who developed cancer, embodying what she advised, the sharpened focus on life. The unusual length of her survival was due to the excellent care of her physicians Eric Minenberg and Jane Misel, the support of her family and friends, but mostly due to her indomitable spirit. This was the gift, her eyes were opened, and each day became a chance to make a new friend, help those in need, and feel the joy it is to be alive. She worked with her physicians to explore every conceivable therapy. She enthusiastically began a program of exercise and diet to join in the fight. She served as a tireless resource in helping others with breast cancer. Even when she didn’t feel well, she pushed herself to uncomplainingly join in a family adventure or improve someone else’s life, a chance to pay it forward, buying groceries for the needy or comforting the inflicted.
A measure of her courage was evident in her decision to pursue the demanding equestrian discipline of dressage. She went to every lesson and every show despite how she felt, planning a show just months before she passed. Her dedication to excellence resulted in a gold medal, the highest level reached in amateur competition. She loved everything about riding and the riding community embraced her as one of their darlings. She could talk to her dogs, her horses and her people in a way that made them all try to please her, just to be rewarded with one of her brilliant smiles.
We remember Michelle for her grit and determination as well as her kindness and sensitivity. We remember her absolute joy when she pushed past her illness to adventure in the outdoors of Idaho with her family. She was a physician, a wife, a mother, a sister and an unabashed Duke fan. But even more, she was a lifelong student and teacher and loyal friend who blessed the many lives she touched. We carry her love with us as we grieve the loss of her luminous presence.
Surviving Michelle are her husband, Allen Ashley Futral III, son Cameron Deal Futral, daughter Grace Simone Futral, parents John Frederik Bayens and Walda Bayens, her sister Simone Klooster, and her brother Bryan Bayens.
Memorials to Michelle may be donated to the horse therapy program BEATS (Bethany’s Equine and Aquatic Services, Inc.) in lieu of flowers. Memorial service will be held at a future date when appropriate.