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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Jessica Martell of Bellerose dies at age 6


    To her younger brother Matthew, Jessica Denise Martell was called Sissy.

    To her aunt, she was considered an angel.

    And to her honorary softball coach, a ray of light.

    But most of all, she was an inspiration.

    The always-smiling, princess-loving little girl died Saturday at her home in Bellerose after more than three years fighting a rare cancer. She was 6.

    “”She had enough,”” her mother, Denise Martell, said. “”Her poor little body had enough.””

    Jessica was diagnosed at age 2 1/2 with chordoma, a cancer that attacks between bone and soft tissue, mostly in the brain or spine. Her case, which was atypical, was centered in the throat, her mother said.

    She went through a year of chemotherapy, four months of radiation, rehab and other treatments, family said.

    All the while, Jessica took dance classes, practiced hopscotch, made her famous egg salad sandwiches and posed for the camera.

    “”She was such a brave girl,”” an aunt, Karenann Ragusa, said. “”We tried to make her life so normal.””

    She also spent three years attending the Hicksville-based Morgan Center, a preschool for kids with cancer that is believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation.

    “”She always had on a princess dress and would dance into the classroom,”” said Nancy Zuch, who founded the school with her husband, Gerard, in honor of their daughter, Morgan, who survived childhood cancer. “”I now imagine her dancing in heaven again.””

    Jessica also was an honorary member of the St. John’s University softball team in Queens.

    “”As sick as she was, she was always smiling,”” assistant coach Andy Russo said. “”It’s a little rough right now. We just told the team and they’re struggling.””

    Jessica recently started kindergarten at PS 46 in Bayside.

    But in September, doctors said the cancer had spread. “”All of a sudden it got out of control,”” her mother said. “”It took over. It’s horrible.””

    Jessica leaves behind her parents, Denise and James; a brother, Matthew; two grandparents, six aunts and uncles and four cousins.

    Services were being planned Saturday.

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