(Originally posted: December 3, 2014)
About three months ago, I received a package containing a NEGU bracelet and the book Never Ever Give Up. The book tells the inspiring story of Jessie Joy Rees, a young girl diagnosed with a rare brain tumor called DIPG. Instead of focusing on herself, Jessie asked her father, “how do we help them?” By “them”, she meant the other children in the hospital. Jessie dedicated the rest of her life to helping others who were fighting childhood cancer. She created JoyJars and delivered them herself. Her movement has now spread around the world, and her motivational message, NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) became a beacon of hope. Although Jessie lost her battle with cancer at age 12, she won the hearts of many including mine, and her movement lives on.
For those of you not familiar with DIPG, it is a deadly cancer. Not many children diagnosed with it survive. Symptoms include:
Headaches (especially upon awakening)
Muscle weakness on one side of the body
Clumsiness/ difficulty walking
Double vision/ tilting head
*There may be one or two of these signs before diagnosis.
*Source: Rees, Erik. Never Ever Give Up. California: Zondervan.com, 2014. Print.
While reading Jessie’s story, I kept thinking to myself “How can I be less selfish?” I have been going through a lot of problems, both personal and with family. Yet, here was this young girl with an incurable brain tumor and she was thinking about others. It made me realize that I shouldn’t complain about my issues when there are people out in the world who have it worse than me. Jessie was a lot stronger than I am in so many ways and reading her story changed me. For that I consider her a hero.
I began this blog post with the quote above because we are the only ones who can make a change in this world. There are many problems that bother me, but I can’t expect a change to happen if I do not take the first step. We all need to take that first step in doing something whether its for childhood cancer, animal cruelty, civil rights, or anything else that tugs at your heart. Jessie believed in making the world a better place and made a huge difference. Let’s all remember that we can do the same, and when things get tough just remember to take a deep breath and NEGU.
To donate or for more information on the Jessie Rees Foundation please visit: http://negu.org/
Photos: Rosa Elena Burgos
Last Updated: July 14, 2019