ECS 2011 graduate, Allie Grace (Durham) English, recently published her first book, Jacob's Journey.
ECS 2011 graduate, Allie Grace (Durham) English, recently published her first book, Jacob's Journey, a children's novel that retells the experience of childhood cancer in the form of a fairy tale. Allie's older brother, Jacob Durham, was a cancer patient at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN from 1995-1998. During his time at St. Jude, Jacob was featured in several promotions for the hospital including commercials, brochures, and public events like the Hollywood Christmas Parade and the Liberty Bowl Breakfast. A student at ECS, Jacob made friends easily and brought joy to his family, friends, teachers, and team of health care experts. He was a strong believer even at 9 years old, and he shared the Gospel in the hallways of the hospital and his school, leading many to a deeper faith in Jesus.
Jacob passed away in October of 1998, but the courage he exhibited during his three-year battle with cancer inspired Allie to write his story in a way that other children with life-threatening illnesses could read and relate to.
In Jacob's Journey, Allie tells the story of Prince Jacob and his two faithful dogs, Rover and Fleas, characters based on the real-life Jacob's childhood stuffed animals. Prince Jacob grows up happily in a castle with his loving family until, one night, the course of his life changes forever when he is cursed by an evil sorcerer. Jacob must leave his home and embark on an adventure to find the land with the cure for every curse. Every danger Jacob faces along the way to this faraway land reflects different aspects of cancer treatment children often face — chemo therapy, hair loss, exhaustion, fever, a weakened immune system, the pain of being pricked and poked, loneliness, and even the pain of losing a friend. In the end, after facing many trials, Prince Jacob reaches the land with the cure for every curse, and there he finds true healing.
"I wanted to write a book that would let children battling childhood cancer see themselves as the hero of a story. Throughout everything that he faced, my brother Jacob was brave, cheerful, and kind. I wanted to capture the spirit of courage I saw in his life and write a story that would help other children be brave in the face of frightening difficulties, too," said Allie.
Allie hopes that the book will be an encouragement to children and families facing life-threatening illnesses. She commented on the response to her book, "It's been an incredible experience to see that Jacob's life is still impacting people. His journey still matters. While some might see his death as a defeat, because of his faith in Jesus Christ, I know it was a victory. He found healing indeed. I want children to know that no matter how scary and impossible the difficulties are that they face, they can have the kind of courage Jacob had."