Many who didn’t know Janice Loggins have likely seen her smiling face. The St. Simons Island Elementary student valiantly battled leukemia since 2016, becoming a local star and rallying point for the community. She has been featured on a number of posters and banners, raising awareness of childhood cancer, locally.
Like other local families battling the illness, they have experienced waves of highs and lows. They were thrilled when she went into remission, but that joy didn’t last. The 8-year-old relapsed in 2017 and spent a great deal of time in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Jacksonville suffering complications from transplants and infections.
Through it all, however, Janice continued to love life, sharing her light through her mother’s, Shajuanda Harrison, social media posts. But on Sunday, her little body started to shut down.
Janice had passed away, in the midst of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, no less.
Naturally, her family is crushed.
“Her organs started shutting down. It’s been really hard on everybody ... on me, my husband and our other four kids. Everyone is just really trying to console everyone else,” Harrison said.
The family is currently in the process of putting together a memorial service for Janice.
Through the unspeakable pain, Harrison and her family are trying to keep their minds focused on who Janice was and the positivity she shared.
“Janice was not ‘normal.’ She was always happy and wanted to make everybody laugh. Her spirit was so happy and she touched a lot of people. No matter what she was going through, she would make jokes. She was just so positive and a really great kid,” Harrison said.
Janice believed in sparkle. And outside of her bubbly personality, she hoped to sharing a little simple shine with others when she got well.
“Janice wanted to have a big party to celebrate her getting out of the hospital ... bounce houses, a DJ, lots of balloons, face painting, picture taking, lots of dancing and everybody having a good time,” Harrison said. “She wanted unicorn decorations with ‘a lot of pink and sparkly stuff.’”
Her family plans to do just that at 3 p.m. Sept. 22 at the old Roxy Theater, 1603 Albany St., Brunswick. The family is hoping to get some support to help make it happen. With four other children and medical expenses, they have had trouble making ends meet. Harrison has set up a GoFundMe page under the title Janice’s Celebration of Life. As of Tuesday, $4,590 of the $10,000 had been raised.
“We will have to get bounce houses, decoration, food and drinks ... because there will be kids there, and we want everyone to be able to have a good time to celebrate her,” Harrison said.
With any money left over from the GoFundMe account, Harrison is hoping to make another one of Janice’s dream come true. One of the things Janice had focused on throughout treatment was a future family cruise. While it never came to fruition, that is what Harrison and her family are hoping to do in her honor.
“We want to take our other kids and do this for her. It’s what she wanted us to do,” Harrison said.