Girl Spreads Joy To Others While Battling Cancer By Sharing Spirit And Message On Facebook

» RELATED STORY: Girl Faces Cancer With Courage, Hope And Unyielding Love

Update: Sadly, Jessie lost her battle with cancer on Thursday, January 5, 2012. Jessie’s memory and spirit will continue to live on through the thousands of people she touched and the foundation she inspired. » More

By Lisa Sigell

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A loving couple, three beautiful kids and a faith as strong as any family can have — that, in words, describes the Rees family.

Erik Rees, a pastor at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, could not feel more blessed. He has also never been clearer on his role in life.

“I’m not a pastor right now, I’m just dad… This is different than going and sitting with a family as a pastor, because I’m just dad. My daughter doesn’t need a pastor, she needs her daddy,” Erik said while fighting back tears.

His youngest daughter, 12-year-old Jessie, has cancer. The first symptom was double vision and from there she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

It has been two months since the diagnosis. Jessie has endured 30 rounds of radiation, too many visits to the hospital to count and chemotherapy — a tough battle for anyone, let alone a 12-year old.

“There were points when you would cry, when you would have those days. And there were points when you were good,” Jessie said.

“It just breaks… because it’s your baby and you want to do everything you can to protect them and make sure it’s OK and sometimes it’s just out of your hands,” said Jessie’s mom, Stacey.

“It’s never easy being a dad. No it’s not. Daddies are supposed to make boo boos go away. You know, when she use to fall and skin a knee, I could help. Stacey could help. This one is out of our control,” Erik said.

Still, Jessie is surrounded by love. Her home is filled with cards and posters from her friends and church members. Her Facebook page started with a few thousand likes  but since our stories aired has grown to more than 404,000 likes from all over the world.

These words and prayers lift her spirits up. But more than that is what she is doing for others, during a time when most of us would be busy worrying about ourselves.

”That’s not what it’s about,” she said while crying.

Jessie is going through a tough time, but it does not define her. She is all about joy and has even inspired a foundation called NEGU (Never Ever Give Up).

“Never ever give up. Is that how you feel?” I asked.

“Yes, stay strong and you can get through it,” she said.

With her foundation and special JoyJars, she wants to help other kids — especially the ones who cannot go home from the hospital during treatment, like she was able to do.

“I just wanted to make them happier, because I know they are going through a lot too,” Jessie said.

She fills the jars with things kids will enjoy and then brings them to Children’s Hospital of Orange County where she has been treated. She also sells JoyJars online — each one sold pays for one that she gives away.

They are for anyone, who needs a little joy in their life, maybe to give as a birthday present or even a baby gift.

“You know when people get hit with this kind of news, they kind of have one or two choices — be bitter or be better — and Jessie has clearly chosen to be better,” Erik said.

“It’s just inspiring others to keep going and to not give up. And you know, even when it gets tough, that you can get through it, and I think that is what she is touching others with,” Stacey said.

“We are fighting with Jessie,” Erik said.

“And she’s doing amazing,” Stacey added.

“Yes, she is… We’re so proud of her. I’m proud to be her dad.”

» Girl Faces Cancer With Courage, Hope And Unyielding Love
» Girl Who Spread Joy And Hope To Thousands Loses Battle With Brain Cancer
» Thousands Gather To Remember 12-Year-Old Jessie Joy Rees

» Buy JoyJars
» Jessie’s Facebook Page
» Learn More About The NEGU Foundation

More from Lisa Sigell
  • Marko jankovic

    Jessie, you inspire me more than anyone I know. You’re such a wonderful girl and I will pray for you and your family. Love. Mj.

  • Emma

    hi my name is Emma you are great person that was so nice what u did and u r 12 i am 13 and i can never do that i am to shy to do anything

  • Richard Clark

    Hi Jessie,

    I’m 57 years old and I can only wish to have the courage that you have. You inspire me. Keep god with you and that buetiful smile.


  • Doris


    i saw you on television and i want you to know that it is my belief that these terrible things that happen to us are sometime vehicles for God to bring a major blessing to us and others through us. What you are doing is amazing and you are inspiring and blessing others with your beautiful gifts, your tremendous courage, and your ongoing battle. You are in my prayers and if there is anything I can contribute to assist you in blessing others please let me know. Befriend me on facebook.

  • camille parra

    Hello Jessi… The story of your battle and the relationship you have with Jackson was brought to us just yesterday in our Tuesday morning Bible Study group. We meet at Coast Hills Church in Aliso Viejo… and we are praying for you and Jackson. Now, today, I was blessed to see and hear you on CBS News!

    It was the Lord’s will that your face and voice be broadcast across Southern California – and the “never ever give up” story of your faith and love for Him is now traveling through cyberspace for the world to see on the CBS website. I’ve sent the link to all our praying ladies… and I know they are passing it on! Hold fast to your faith and your crown, sweet angel! In Jesus we pray – Camille

    • Lisa

      So glad we could share Jessie’s story with you. She is such an inspiration and bringing joy to so many. Her strength will continue to grow. She is doing well and all our good thoughts and prayers only help. Lisa

      • Ross Nash

        Great Job Lisa:-)

      • Marilyn

        Thank you, Lisa, for bringing Jessie’s story to light. Keep up the excellent work.
        Sincerely, Marilyn Henley (Jessie’s Tanta)

  • Leon Skeie

    You inspire nana and me every day, Jessie!!! Love, Papa

    • Sandra Crouch

      Jessie, I don’t know you personally, but I know a lot of your friends, and knew your Grandpa Leon 20 years ago. From them I know you are a wonderful, genuine young woman whose compassionate heart reaches out to those hurting around you. May the Lord continue to bless you, and to bless others through you, and may He work mightily through your doctors and treatments to heal you completely.

      NEGU <3

  • Duane

    What a courageous young lady you are! I believe in you and wish for the very best in your struggles and journey’s. You are an inspiration to many folks whether they be younger or much much older like me. I’m 65! You have touched my heart young lady. God Bless…

  • http://hotmail Geraldine Cahill

    Jessie, you are an amazing young person who has inspired thousands of people. It has been a pleasure to meet you on facebook and to see you and your wonderful parents on TV. I am very impressed with your kindness and sensitivity toward children who are in need. You are a true treasure. God bless you always.

  • Susan Arlidge-Lopez

    Dear Jessie,

    What a strong and amazing young lady you are. May you forever keep the faith and strength you have right now. Our Dear Heavenly Father will be watching over you with his love and grace. I will keep you in my prayers. For with his love all is possible.
    Thank you for sharing your story and blessing others with your love.
    Susan P.S. I love your smile!!!!!!!

  • pmoore

    I love you Jessie. Never had a daughter but if I did I would cherish you forever…


    God gave you gift to spread the world of what you are doing. Grace to you always/


  • cyntac

    Jessie, you are an inspiration for the world. What you are doing is so remarkable! God and his angels are watching you and will help you in your path.
    I love NEGU! I think everyone watching will send you prayer and all the positive energy possible. You are an amazing person and don’t ever forget that. Keep up the wonderful work you are sharing with the other children. Thank you for all you are doing!

  • Jacquie Olsen

    What an incredible brave little girl and an amazing family….. You are such an inspriration!!! Stay Strong and NEGU! Sending a big hug your way! oxoxo

  • Ronnie Paul Jr.

    Jessie, I watched you on Channel 2 last night. I wish you the very best,and hope for a fast recovery to you. You have wonderful parents. Keep you spirts up. Yoy gifts are just the greatest thing. Ronnie in Fresno, Ca.

    • Ronnie Paul Jr.

      PS Your smile is like sunshine. My prayers and thoughts go to you.

  • Bianca Ricca

    Jessie you are such an amazing girl! And your family loves you SO much! You are such a blessing, not only to them, but to everyone you inspire. Never ever give up Jessie, and i know you wont. God has wonderful things in store for you and your family. You are a TRUE inspiration!!!! Thank you for sharing your faith with us each and every day. You continue to be in my prayers! <3

  • carlo

    jesse your jars are wonderful. keep your head up my dear, jesus is watching over you. keep ing you in my thoughts and prayers. carlo

  • oliver lopez

    contigo la palabra amor se conjuga muy facil!! jesse!! que dios te bendiga

  • Sydney Marie

    Jessie, I hope you get well. May God hear my prayers that your courage and unselfish giving – inspires others. May he give you; your parents; family and friends the strength to get through this difficult time. I typically have heavy heart with what’s’ going on in the world today, but you touched my heart. Thank you! You are not alone and we all love you. -Sydney Marie.

  • Ana Maria Lopez

    Dear Jessie,
    Just saw you on the news today. You are truly an ANGEL from God. Sometimes we are on this earth as instruments for others. You have proven that to be with your business that you have created. What a terrific idea!!!!! I’ll Pray that you get well. Keep the faith!!!! Remember…that although the doctors have the healing power. GOD HAS THE ULTIMATE POWER…. May God Bless you and you loving family always..

  • Ange

    Praying for you, Jessie, Erik and Stacy. Thanks for sharing your story..

  • Lisa Tigert

    Jessie – I watched your segment this morning. You did such a great job! I would have been so incredibly nervous! Thank you for being SO brave by sharing your story and your unending FAITH! You are shining God’s light beyond your imagination! Can’t wait to get more Joy Jars!

  • Lisa

    I am here hoping and praying for you … you truly are an inspiration.
    Thank you for showing us adults and children, how to stay positive.

    All my love :)

  • Lil

    What a wonderful story about a brave little girl… What an inspiration she is! We are all praying for you, Jessie! Never ever give up! Love you, sweetie!

  • Matt

    you are an inspiration to us all, you’re amazing. NEGU!

  • Pam J. Kirby

    Jessie, When you get threw all of your operations/treatments, WHAT A TESTIMONY YOU WILL HAVE TO SHARE. We are here to serve God & tell the good news of him & his return. God Bless you & your family. Stay strong in God .

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