12-Year-Old Cancer Blogger's Death Doesn't Mean Her Dream Has to Die (You Can Help!)

Jessica Joy ReesAs a parent, I find myself thinking about the worst sometimes. I hear stories of children facing cancer and other horrific diseases and wonder what if it happens to my child, and how I could ever handle it if it did. Most parents I know do the same. Hopefully none of us will have to find out how we'd face such adversity, but if we do -- as some of us inevitably will -- there's no better example of courage and grace than Jessica Joy Rees has provided.

The 12-year-old blogger, known as "Jessie," will be laid to rest in Lake Forest California, tomorrow. After a very public 10-month battle against brain cancer, she lost her fight last week. Along the way, however, she provided so much inspiration and was such a shining of example of resilience and hope that her legacy will long live on.

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After being diagnosed with cancer last March, Jessie started a blog. There she shared her struggles, dreams, and her incredible desire to help other children facing similar plights. Her motto was NEGU (nee-goo), which stands for never ever give up, and she lived those words with which she ended each post.

During her illness she and her family established the NEGU Foundation designed to create awareness about pediatric cancer, raise funds for research, and encourage parents and children facing it to never give up. They also came up with the idea of JoyJars -- jars filled with small toys, candy, and other times sent to children battling serious illness. Last year, more than 3,000 were sent out across the country.

It's amazing that during such a painful and heart-wrenching time in their lives, this family had the strength and clarity to think beyond themselves and their own problems and to do for others so selflessly. The inspiration and understanding they have offered to countless others is evident by the outpouring of messages from around the world on Jessie's Facebook page. Her goal once was to get 50,000 likes on her page -- one for every child in America with cancer. Today she has almost 110,000.

Not every family can respond as this family did, and everyone must face such situations in their own way, but what a wonderful example they are of not letting a disease get in the way of your hopes and dreams. And that when faced with the darkest days, there's always light there somewhere if we just seek it out.

To help keep Jessie's legacy alive, visit the NEGU Foundation where you can donate and/or sponsor JoyJars.

Have you followed Jessie's story? Have you ever had to deal with a life-threatening illness with one of your children, and if so, how have you coped?


Image via the NEGU Foundation

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