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Jillian Zuelsdorff

  • Neuroblastoma

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Jillian was a courageous and strong-willed child. She always had a smile on her face, and no matter the pain she felt, always made sure everyone else had smiles too. She collected marbles (back when they were still in spray paint cans), loved Elmo’s World, cows and playing with bubbles.  

The same year she was born, Jill kept waking up in the middle of the night screaming, and every doctor said it was just an ear infection or chalked it up to her being a fussy baby. But her mother didn't give up and sought answers.  

Jill was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma on Halloween in 2005. 

Jill’s older sister, Jamie, was fairly young when Jill was diagnosed. But she remembers that Jill received a lot of chemotherapy, round after round of radiation, bone marrow transplants and platelet infusions. Sadly, Jill passed away. 

“This is a battle that is long, and can be so draining,” said Jamie. “Anticipatory grief is a real thing, but it's important to know that this is NOT a battle that is faced alone. Though cancer is a horrible thing, it brings people together, and it breeds strength. When one child has cancer, that feeling reverberates through family and friends, who join together and fight for a cure, and find hope in even the darkest of times.” 

Jamie hopes that, one day, no child has to experience the pain or fear of facing cancer. She hopes families don't have to face the worry, the grief, and loss of burying their child before they were even given a chance. 

To Jamie, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) means hope, courage and family. She wants to see kids get their cures, better treatments made available, ways to prevent lifelong side effects, and better quality of life. “ALSF brings me hope that soon, no one will have to go through this suffering again.” 

Jamie will always remember Jillian’s admirable ability, even while so incredibly young, to face each trial with determination and courage. “I hope to be even a fraction of the person she was,” she said. “Being her big sister is the greatest honor and title I could ever have.” Today, Jamie is working toward a career as a child life specialist in her sister’s honor, to help other children, and give them hope in the darkest times. “I want to keep her legacy going, and to keep moving that strength of hers forward.” 

Information provided by Jamie Z., Jillian’s sister 
Updated April 2023 

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