Jessica Joy Rees, Child Brain Tumor Blogger, Never Gave Up


Posted on 7th January 2012 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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That was the goodbye that Jessica Joy Rees, 12, of Orange County,  Calif., always ended her blogs with. It is an acronym that stands for “never ever give up.” Jessica’s spirit never did give up, even after being diagnosed with several inoperable brain tumors. It’s no wonder that her middle name was “Joy.”

But on Thursday, her body gave up. Jessica passed away after a 10-month-long fight against brain cancer, according to the Associated Press.

Jessica was a brave little girl. When she was diagosed with a brain tumor in March, she didn’t sit silently. Jessica launched a blog about her struggle with cancer. In September, doctors discovered that she had a second brain tumor.

Jessica not only wrote about her chemo and radiation treatments, she pleaded for readers to donate to pediatric cancer research. And that wasn’t all. Jessica and her parents created The NEGU Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds for research and puts a spotlight on pediatric cancer, according to AP.

The NEGU Foundation would sell and distribute “JoyJars” to kids with cancer. They contained toys and candy, and more than 3,000 were sold and handed out in 27 states last year.

Jessica, who lived in Rancho Santa Margarita, truly became the poster child for pediatric cancer when she attended “American Idol.” She cheered on one contestant from the OC, Casey Abrams, and introduced another, Scott McCreery, who won the competition, according to AP.

Jessica’s father is a pastor, and we hope his faith takes him through this difficult time. His daughter was an angel even before she passed away.      

FDA panel supports Avastin for brain cancer


Posted on 31st March 2009 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Date: 3/31/2009

WASHINGTON (AP) — Preliminary studies of a blockbuster drug from Roche’s Genentech unit are strong enough to speed up its approval for brain cancer, federal cancer experts said Tuesday.

The company has asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve its blockbuster drug Avastin to treat patients with the deadliest form of brain tumor. The drug is already approved for patients with certain types of lung, breast and colon cancer.

The FDA’s panel of 10 outside experts unanimously voted that preliminary results in brain cancer patients warrant accelerated approval, according to an agency spokeswoman. The accelerated approval designation gives early market access to drugs that show promising early results. Companies must submit follow-up studies to stay on the market.

The FDA is not required to follow the advice of its panel, though it often does.

South San Francisco-based Genentech is now owned by drugmaker Roche, based in Basel, Switzerland.

Heading into the meeting, FDA’s drug reviewers said it was difficult to draw a clear connection between Avastin and tumor shrinkage seen in patient medical scans. Reviewers noted the difficulty of measuring tumor size via medical imaging.

But panelists were won over by two studies from Genentech showing between 20 and 25 percent of cancer patients responded to the treatment. The company also noted that “virtually no improvements have been made since the 1970s” in treatment for the cancer, known medically as recurring glioblastoma multiforme.

Avastin was Genentech’s top-selling product last year with revenue of $2.69 billion. However, sales growth has been slowing.

In the last quarter, U.S. sales of Avastin were $731 million, falling short of Wall Street forecasts for $740 million. Analysts said the drug is likely reaching a saturation point in the market and will need additional FDA approvals to continue growing.

Initially approved in 2004, Avastin was the first drug to fight cancer by choking off blood flow to tumors. Such “targeted therapies” were considered a significant advance beyond chemotherapy.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.