6-year-old with cancer passes away. Then family finds s

6-year-old with cancer passes away. Then family finds secret notes and pictures she left for them


Many Americans are touched by cancer full the course of their families’ lives though it is especially tragic when it comes at a young age. That was the case for the family in Wyoming, Ohio, when their six-year-old daughter Elena was diagnosed with a rare and inoperable form of brain cancer. A doctor told the family that Elena would only have about six months to live.

Overhearing the news, Elena’s parents Keith and Brooke decided to go out of their way to make their daughter’s last days as unforgettable and special as possible. During that time, they had Elena create a wish list with some unbelievable dreams on it. One was to have a piece of her artwork in a museum, which they actually finished her painting entitled  I Love You was displayed in the Cincinnati Art Museum next to art by Pablo Picasso, her favorite artist.

Towards the end of their time together, Elena had a last daddy and daughter dance with her father before passing away two days later. But what the family discovered after Elena’s was gone was truly remarkable.

As they were going through the things in their house, they started finding tiny love notes and pictures from Elena addressed to the whole family: I love you Mom, Dad and Grace. There was apparently no end to these hidden notes which the family kept finding. Keith and Brooke were incredibly moved by their daughter’s thoughtfulness and love during her long battle with cancer. After finding all of her notes, the family decided to do something to share her love with the world.

The outcome was Notes Left Behind, a book published by Brooke and Keith which compiles stories of the valuable time they spent during Elena’s last days as well as Elena’s own notes and artwork left for her family. Above all else, the project was also a way for the Desserich family to provide that Grace would always have memories of her older sister.

In addition to the book, the family also founded The Cure Starts Now, a foundation which strives to rid the world of all cancer. As of today, the foundation has raised more than seven million dollars for research and treatment. A portion of the sales ofNotes Left Behind also goes towards funding the foundation.

Though the Desserich’s story is tragic, it also underscores how incredibly capable we are of empathy and love when we put our minds to it. Elena’s example of selfless love was, in turn, an inspiration to the family she left back. As a result of it all, her spirit lives on through her notes. Be sure to check out Elena’s artwork on the internet or by picking up a copy of the book for yourself—her illustrations are sure to thaw even the hardest heart.

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