“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)
I read yesterday about the death of an angel, little Jessica Joy Rees, a 12 year old girl who was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer last March. Over the last ten months she has endured countless trips to the hospital, chemotherapy and 30 rounds of radiation. Quite a remarkable battle for such a young child. The entire time Jessica kept her head held high and made it her mission to bring joy and inspiration to other children suffering from cancer and even inspired a foundation called ‘NEGU’ whic stood for “Never Ever Give Up,” her motto throughout her ordeal. “Stay strong and you can get through it” she would post on her blog and Facebook page, “Never ever give up.” True to her word she fought valiantly in her battle for life, but sadly succumbed to her cancer yesterday.
To say that Jessica Joy was an extraordinary child is an understatement. She was much more than that. In spite of her weakening condition she continued to write on her blog and Facebook until just a few days ago, providing updates on her condition, her thoughts and requesting prayers, not only for herself, but for other children who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. A recent post read, “Time to support a new courageous kid…His name is Garrit. He is 10 and fighting brain cancer too. Stay strong Garrit and NEGU!” That was Jessica, she was an absolute angel of hope.
It saddens me that someone as courageous and caring as Jessica was not victorious in her battle with cancer. A young humanitarian like her is certainly the exception rather than the rule. In just a matter of months she touched thousands of lives, offering not only hope, but encouragement and inspiration as well. As part of her mission to spread joy,she inspired the creation of what she called “JoyJars”as a way to help spread hope, joy and love to other kids fighting cancer. A ‘JoyJar’ is a large jar filled with small items a child would enjoy, that will give them a boost of joy. Particularly for children who’s illness is so severe that they must remain in the hospital and can’t go home. An example of Joy items include candy, cards, Lego’s, toys, stuffed animals, little squirt guns, gift cards, balls the possibilities are endless.
During 2011, Jessie and what is referred to as the JoySquad were able to send over 3,000 JoyJars to kids in over 27 states and 7 Children’s Hospitals. Jessie dreamed of sending a JoyJar to every one of the over 50,000 kids fighting cancer in the United States. I’m sure that her family and supporters will see to it that her goal will one day be reached.
One has to wonder, what more this child might have accomplished had she won her battle with cancer. What great things might she have gone on to do as an adult? With the love and compassion that radiated from her at such a young age I know her contributions would have been significant. My heart goes out to her family. A a father I mourn their loss. Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult enough, the lose a child unimaginable. But even death cannot extinguish the Light of Joy that was Jessica. And although her God given Light may seem dim or shrouded by the circumstance of her death, the Light remains and will shine forth in all its brilliance once again, for even in the darkest of moments His Light continues to burn.
Jessica Joy’s selfless acts of kindness and her courage will always be remembered and will continue to be an inspiration to us all. “Rest in peace Jessica Joy, Your journey’s complete.”