Jessica Joy Rees, who blogged her fight against brain cancer, has died after a 10 month fight with the disease. She was 12.
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Her family announced her death on her Facebook page on Thursday afternoon. The post said:
“Dear friends…we have prayed and prayed and prayed for sweet Jessie to be healed here on earth but God’s plan was to use heaven for healing. Jessie earned her wings today and is with Jesus now!!! No pain..complete vision…spreading joy. Please pray for our family as we walk out of the valley of death and towards the mountain top. We will let everyone know of her celebration service as arrangements are made. Please join us in carrying on her joyful spirit and Never Ever Give Up attitude. Much love, Erik, Stacey, Shaya and JT”
An outpouring of support crowded the Facebook page after the announcement. As a result, posthumously, Jessica reached her goal of at least one “like” for each of the estimated 50,000 children in America that has cancer. Her page has over 82,000 likes at the time of this writing, and still climbing.
The Orange County seventh-grader began a blog and Facebook page after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in March. In September, a second tumor was discovered.
On her blog and on Facebook, Jessica bravely detailed about her fight against her cancer, signing each of her posts with the acronym NEGU, pronounced NEE’-goo for “Never Ever Give Up.” As she wrote about the radiation and chemotherapy treatments she received, she also campaigned for her Facebook friends and blog followers to support pediatric cancer research and pray for other children with cancer.
Eventually, she and her parents started The NEGU Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to raise awareness of pediatric cancer, raise money for research, and support patients and their families.
In addition to wanting to reach one “like” for each of the 50,000 pediatric cancer sufferers in America, Jessica also wanted to provide one “JoyJar” for each of them, as well. The NEGU Foundation sold and provided thousands of so-called “JoyJars,” with more than 3,000 sold and distributed in 27 states in 2011. Buyers of a “JoyJar” get a t-shirt inside a jar, keep the shirt, and fill the jars with “Joy” and pass them on to the recipient.
On her Facebook page, Jessica Joy Rees said her mission was to “to encourage kids fighting cancer to Never Ever Give Up by spreading hope, joy and love. A cheerful heart is great medicine.” She wrote: “I love spreading joy to kids with our JoyJars. I love reading all of the posts on Facebook. I love having so many people praying for me. I love that people are supporting NEGU and allowing us to help kids. I love my family and all of my new friends.”
Jessica Joy Rees isn’t the only childhood cancer patient blogging of her struggles. Alice Pyne, of Ulverston, England, 16, started her blog, Alice’s Bucket List when she felt that the “cancer is gaining on me and it doesn’t look like I’m going to win this one.” A bucket list is a list of things to do before someone dies or “kicks the bucket.”
Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma over four years ago, Pyne continues to blog; her latest entry from Dec. 28 is about her latest radiation treatment and her birthday. Much as with Jessica, when news of Alice’s plight reached the Internet, she became a trending topic on social media.
A celebration service is scheduled for next Wednesday at the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, where her father, Erik Rees, is a pastor.