Loving, happy, giving, and confident- that was Julia Cobb . The eight year old Ewing’s sarcoma patient exemplified the qualities we all find so valuable in life. Her spirit came from birth as a true gift from God. Through her actions and heart, Julia left a lasting legacy.
As a child, Julia received the nickname “Ju” from her family and it stuck. When first diagnosed with cancer, her father Jonathan Cobb, a cancer survivor, looked at Julia and said “Ju, the first three letters in ‘cancer’ are ‘can’. You do what you can and let God do the rest.” So began the”JuCan” trademark that others came to know and love. Her mantra was “JuCan-UCan-GodCan.”
Those who knew Ju would say she was an unconditional lover. She let love consume her and then flow to others. Her pure heart showed her full faith in God and His plan for her. Ju enjoyed visiting or calling people with cancer and she was never shy about praying for them. Ju never ended a visit, a phone call or a message without saying, “JuCan-UCan-GodCan!”
Ju wanted to be a mother more than anything when she grew up and she got her wish. Julia considered it a joy to be able to care for her 3 year old sister, Jaxi, like she was her own. Ju fed her and changed her diapers and treated Jaxi as if she were her own daughter- her “mini Ju”. Jaxi was God’s greatest gift to Julia. When faced with her stem cell transplant that made her unable to see much of her family or anyone under the age of six, the hardest part for her was not the intense treatment involved. It was not getting to see Jaxi and missing her immensely. Julia had the unfailing love of a mother. Ju’s other nickname around the house was “Little Mama.”
Ju drew strength from her family. She admired her big brother, Jonathan, who was 3 years older, her protector and could also make her laugh when things weren’t funny. She adored everything about him. Her older sister Jenna and Julia shared a special bond. They were more than “Irish Twins” and 14 months apart- they were “besties.” Jenna even said to her mom, “Mom, I’m really sad. I miss Ju. As sad as it is, and as sad as we are, I wouldn’t have traded those eight years with her as my bestie for not having had her at all.”
Cancer didn’t define Ju. Julia wasn’t the bed-ridden, defeated girl with cancer. She was the same happy and vivacious girl as she had always been just with a side of cancer.
Her smile, which had a way of lighting up the room, had a way of drawing you to her. When someone loses their hair, their eyes become the focal point. But Ju’s was her smile. She always had a smile even when she was hurting and was sick.
When faced with cancer, one often loses a lot of their personality and spark. Not Julia. Her happiness only made the journey that much more spectacular. The last two years would have been miserable had it not been for her personality. On any day of the week, the agenda was to have fun. Her happiness seemed never-ending and wasn’t dependent on nausea or pain. She was a joy to be around.
Anyone could see Julia’s confidence. It radiated from her and became contagious. Like a magnet, she attracted everyone young and old alike. Her personality lit up a room and a gravitational force seemed to pull you towards her and made you want to know her even more. She had spunk and spirit and you couldn’t get enough of her. Even when Ju shaved her head after her second chemotherapy treatment, being suddenly bald never phased her. When asked if she wanted to wear her hat, she replied “Why would I want to wear my hat? Dad said if I am going to be bald I might as well be proud of it”. She unknowingly inspired young girls who had cancer to shave their heads and be proud before they lost their hair. Some little girls that didn’t have cancer even cut their hair and offered their ponytails to Ju.
Her spirit was unstoppable, even before cancer. Like gravity, it was constant and never took a day off to rest or feel sorry. Instead, her spirit drove her to make the most of the hospital and never stopped her from having fun. She made everything around her come alive.
Ju’s spirit is still alive today. She taught everyone the way to live and to love. She mentored and led others without even trying. Her life was an inspiration for those who knew her; her grace and humility stands as a guide when faced with trials.
She was strong before cancer and during cancer. Her whole treatment was a guidebook to knowing her as well as understanding pain and suffering. If Ju can, I can.
The classic phrase “WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?” now takes on a new meaning for the Cobb family. What Would Ju Do? It acts as a check of how to continue with her spirit and spunk in the face of such a void.
Ju was a hero. She impacted everyone she met and she did so with a humble and serving heart. She had such hope and joy. She left no room for sorrow; her heart was already too full.
That is the JuCan legacy. She was an encourager and an overcomer! She never said I can’t. She never gave up and she never said “why me?” She always focused on what she COULD do. Her spirit was strong and she transitioned into her eternal life with the unwavering faith of a child and the hope of a cure.
She was JuCan, the unstoppable girl with a heart of gold.