Jessie Joy Rees and NEGU

“I believe if we take the time to listen to our hearts about the things that bother us in the world and make the decision to do something rather than just feel bad about it, we can make life so much better for others and ourselves.” -Erik Rees

BRONX, NY- Three months ago, I received a package containing a NEGU bracelet and a copy of the book Never Ever Give Up written by Erik Rees. 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.

NEGU package
Message from Erik

Jessie’s 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 continues to inspire others to make a positive impact.

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)
  • Persistent hiccups
  • Muscle weakness on one side of the body
  • Clumsiness/ difficulty walking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Personality changes
  • Hearing loss
  • Double vision/ tilting head
  • Vomiting

*There may be one or two of these symptoms before diagnosis.

*Source: Rees, Erik.  Never Ever Give Up.  California:, 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.

We all need to take that first step in doing something whether it’s for childhood cancer, animal cruelty, social justice, or anything else that tugs at your heart. Jessie believed in making the world a better place and made a huge difference. Let us all remember that we can do the same, and when things get tough just remember to take a deep breath and NEGU.

Learn more about the Jessie Rees Foundation and considering donating to Jesse’s mission. 


Photos: Rosa Elena Burgos 

Last Updated: April 21, 2022

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