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Jill’s Story

On June 6, 2009, at the age of 21, I was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Being a non-smoker, student-athlete, and otherwise healthy young woman, the diagnosis came as quite a shock. With faith, support, and love of my family and friends, I have made it through 20 (and counting) rounds of chemotherapy and will return to perfect health. 

I practice the powers of "The Secret" and proclaim: "JILL IS HEALTHY...think it, speak it, believe it!!!" Thank you for believing in this miracle with me.

Latest Journal Update

Thank You

To our dear amazing family and friends:

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Our family has been overwhelmed with your kindness and generosity throughout the past year and especially today.


A dear friend, Kathy Lorentz, told me that a saint’s feast day is the day that they died.  Now, I know Jill was certainly no angel—she EARNED the nickname, “Jill the Pill”.  But still, it is a comforting name for a day which is so difficult to remember.

We, all who knew and loved Jill, experienced with her a year of unthinkable, incredible and painful challenge.

And yet, there was also joy. 

I choose to remember the joy.

I choose to remember the young woman who told us months after facing a devastating diagnosis:

“I’ll always remember the visits with dozens of friends, sunny lunches on the back deck, movie nights and sunsets, road trips to Tahoe and relaxation in the Pines.  As it turns out, I got more adventure out of my summer than I could have expected.”

I choose to remember the girl who TAUGHT us to “find the joy.”


A year ago, I wrote:

“While we were all endeavoring to take care of Jill, I realize now that she was taking care of us.  She was teaching us all so many invaluable life lessons:

When you reach out to someone, whoever they are, with kindness and generosity, you become bigger and better and stronger yourself.

When you offer kindness to someone in need, that kindness multiplies and gains more force and becomes distributed throughout the world to others who need it too.

Jill taught us that when you pray for someone, your own Faith becomes stronger and more powerful

Jill taught us that we do not always pick our life’s journey, but we choose how we walk it and we choose to see the beauty along whatever path we travel.

Jill taught us that each day is precious and each day holds joy if we open our eyes to it, and when we find that joy we need to embrace it and celebrate it.

Jill taught us that having your best life is making each day your best day…


Sometimes there is a loss so devastating as to seem unimaginable and unbearable.

Sometimes there is no reason; there is no explanation; there can be no understanding.

There is only acceptance and acceptance in the absence of understanding is the true miracle of faith.  Jill’s faith was strong.  The path to peace for all who loved her is to know that Jill was an incredible gift to all of us and to be grateful.”


The last year has been a year of perhaps even greater challenge, accompanied by more excruciating pain; a year of emotional devastation and sorrow, and the parental apocalypse of the loss of a beloved child.

It is a year in which we, as Jill also did, “figure out a new kind of normal”:  a “normal” in which we learn to live with Jill in our hearts instead of our arms.

I believe it is a challenge which will take a lifetime.


But my sweet friend, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Breda, gave me a full moon medallion and told me, “Even when we do not see it, the moon is still shining, and it still has power over us.”  I believe Jill is still shining and I believe she still has power over us—because she taught us so much.


Jill told us “the fact that joy exists even when everything seems to be falling apart is what keeps me going everyday…life is filled with people who constantly remind me that the world is filled with more good than bad, more hope than doubt, and more love than pain.”

She gave us the tools to meet our challenge and “keep going.”


Jill taught us HOW to meet our challenge—with love:

“Do it all the time, under all conditions, without restrictions or limitations.  Don’t hold back your love; constantly remind the people you love that you do…Don’t waste your time criticizing or complaining; there is no time for that.”


Jill taught us to be grateful: “Learn to appreciate every good thing that happens to you.”

I am grateful for the gift of Jill—for that incredible and amazing bundle of pink joy God placed in my arms, cherished and loved every minute of her life, and then, beyond.

I looked for a miracle and then learned the miracle had been in my arms all along—I am grateful.

I asked for a village to help us, and a mighty army of angels came forth and held us up for the past two years—I am grateful.


I have great consolation in knowing that Jill had every gift but time.

I have great comfort in knowing that Jill knew she was loved and cherished and supported by so many.

I have great solace in knowing that Jill’s twenty-two years were short but they were golden—and you were all the gold.

I am grateful.

Thank you all so much.


Years ago, on her Facebook page, under “Favorite Quotations”, Jill wrote:

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” [Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life”]

An awful hole indeed.


Jill wrote this letter to a someone who had lost a dear friend.

I think she would tell us all the same thing too:


"I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I may not know you very well personally, but I can tell by your unwavering love and support for your girlfriend that you are a strong and wonderful man. Life is truly unfair, and though we might not understand it now, I hope that one day we both will realize that everything is part of God's plan. Love never dies. Although her physical presence may be gone, know that she will be with you ALWAYS.

I'm not sure where I first heard this poem, but I find it very comforting...

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
-Mary Elizabeth Frye

I pray for your continued strength and trust in God. Please keep in touch.

Jill "


With great gratitude, Mary Costello