What would you do if you learned that you had an inoperable brain tumor? In his book, Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and Her JoyJars, Erik Rees tells the inspiring story of his daughter, Jessica Joy Rees, who succumbed to an inoperable form of brain cancer in January 2012 at the age of 12 after a 10-month-long battle. Rather than focusing on her own problems, this incredible little girl focused on what she could do to help other kids who were suffering. Her efforts became an international movement called NEGU: Never Ever Give Up and led to over 100,000 children receiving JoyJars®—packages filled with toys, games, and love for other kids with cancer—so far in over sixteen countries.
In case there was any question in your mind, this is an incredibly moving book. Rees describes, in heartbreaking detail, the events of those 10 months. Throughout the book, we are brought into many family discussions, doctor’s offices, and even Erik’s own thoughts. We cry with the family, but we also smile and at times even laugh. The book is a moving tribute to a beautiful gift that God gave not just a family, but the world.
Never Ever Give Up has given me a new appreciation for what a family dealing with pediatric cancer goes through. I consider myself a reasonably compassionate person, but after reading this book, I will forever find a greater level of sympathy for families with a child with a terminal illness.
Jessie’s story has also inspired me to take a more active role helping those who are less fortunate than I. I’m not sure what that will look like yet, but I am committed to doing more.
At the end of the book, Rees lists “25 Ways To Help a Family With a Child Fighting Cancer.” Everyone should have a copy of this list ready to be used to support those around us.
I highly recommend reading Never Ever Give Up. It will change you forever.