9-year-old Maine cancer patient who asked for early Christmas cards dies

A 9-year-old Maine cancer patient whose story went viral after he asked for early Christmas cards has died.

In a Facebook post Monday morning, Jacob Thompson’s family shared that he “passed away peacefully” on Sunday after a four-year battle with neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer.

“We hope that Jacob’s story and the enormous outpouring of support from around the world will have a lasting impact on raising awareness for this disease,” the family wrote. “Each and every person who sent Jacob a Christmas card, a gift, a Facebook message or video, or a prayer made a difference in the final days of his life.”

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Jacob, of Saco, was admitted to Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland on October 11, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up by his mother, Michelle Thompson Simard. His parents were told he would likely not make it to the holidays. After he asked for cards so he could celebrate early, thousands poured in from strangers, including celebrities Anna Kendrick and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as the New England Patriots.

A group of Massachusetts police drove a caravan of cruisers up to Maine earlier this month after learning of Jacob’s love for police officers. Massachusetts State Police posted on Twitter Monday expressing condolences, writing, “We join all Jacob’s friends in law enforcement in knowing that Heaven has gained another angel.”

Jacob’s family ended the Facebook post asking people to #LiveLikeAPenguin, referring to his favorite animal.

Thompson Simard told GoodHousekeeping.com that in Jacob’s words, the motto means “be friendly, stand by each other, go the extra mile, jump into life and be cool.”

The family has asked those who want to donate in Jacob’s honor to do so at Operation Gratitude, a penguin rescue group, “or pay it forward in your community.”