9-year-old cancer patient whose Christmas wish went viral passes away

Posted at 11:53 AM, Nov 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-20 13:53:09-05

PORTLAND, Maine — When 9-year-old cancer patient Jacob Thompson’s family found out he only had one month to live, they decided to “fast forward” Christmas by asking people to send Jacob Christmas cards.

Jacob passed away Sunday, but not before he had received thousands of cards from around the world.

In a Facebook post Monday, Jacob’s family wrote that they are grateful to everyone who sent him Facebook messages and cards.

“You brought Jacob joy, and you brought us all optimism for the future. Thank you for taking the time, and taking an interest in our sweet boy’s journey. Sadly, there are many others like him that we hope you will continue to help, they wrote,’ the said in the Facebook post.

Jacob was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma when he was 5. According to the American Cancer Society, only half of children diagnosed with the disease reach the five-year survival mark.

After Jacob was admitted to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital on Oct. 11, doctors discovered that the neuroblastoma had spread to his head and was incurable, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his mother.

Only five days after Jacob announced his wish, he received more than 100 cards from people all over the world. He once received more than 10,000 cards in one day according to NECN.

Jacob even received mail from former First Lady Barbara Bush and the New England Patriots.

Antartica is the home of Jacob’s favorite animals: penguins, and Jacob’s supporters knew that. He received  a card from a yellow-eye penguin rescue in New Zealand, and  Mystic Aquarium brought real-life penguins to visit Jacob at the hospital.

Now, Jacob’s family is asking for Jacob’s supporters to carry on his legacy by doing something for their community. They suggested making a donation in Jacob’s honor to Operation Gratitude or a penguin rescue group.

They hope Jacob inspired people to “live like a pengiun.”

“We’d like people to live life like a penguin, and by that we mean dive into life, find warmth among friends, stay cool and just give to others,” Jacob’s stepmom Tara Artinyan told CNN, referring to Jacob’s favorite penguin poem, “Advice from a Penguin.”