Friends of Zoey mourn her passing

Kenneth C. Curnow

Friends of Zoey mourn her passingWhen Zoey Kaylyn Ross died on Nov. 18, 2012, countless friends mourned her passing.

“I have followed her battle,” said one of the many who went to the Friends of Zoey Facebook page to offer support, “My heart is broken and hurting… she was an inspiration to the world.”

Visitation will be on Wednesday, Nov. 21, from 4-7 p.m. at the H.K. Holland Memorial Chapel. A Celebration of Life is set for Saturday, Nov. 24, at 11 a.m. at Calvary Chapel. Jim Humphrey will officiate. A reception at the Ross home, 413 Perdew Ave., will take place immediately after the service.

Zoey was born April 11, 1995, in Richmond, Va. A Ridgecrest resident since 2006, she was a student at Burroughs High School. She enjoyed playing softball and was remembered as a fierce competitor. She was known to be a friend to anyone who needed a friend, according to her mother, Pam Ross.

As one friend put it, “She was very intimidating in her gear. Good thing the other teams didn’t know what a true sweetheart she really is.”

Members of the Ridgecrest community were drawn together in early 2011 in support of then 16-year-old Zoey as she was battling rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer with only around 250 cases per year. Zoey was diagnosed on Nov. 9, 2010, and underwent treatment until April 2012.

Originally, the diagnosis was grim. “They gave her a 30-percent chance of survival over five years,” according to the Friends of Zoey information page.

“Her treatment began as 54 weeks of hard chemo to control the fluid and the fast growth of the tumors. After the first two rounds of chemo, the bone marrow in the left hip and the left lymph node were clean of cancer. During the last six months, Zoey has spent more time in the hospital than out,” the Friends of Zoey information page reported in 2011.

“Zoey is definitely my hero, I know that I could not have gone through what she has with such grace and dignity,” one supporter wrote at the time.

Zoey was declared to be in remission in April 2012, but in August, it became clear that the cancer had returned.

Zoey’s soft tissues could no longer withstand the chemo and medication treatments. She wanted to “enjoy the time she [had] left and die the way she [had] lived.”

“In the end, she was more worried about all of us being OK than she was about leaving us,” said Pam Ross.

“Zoey said that if by sharing her journey with all of you, she has helped one person or made a difference in someone’s life then it was all worth it,” says the Friends of Zoey site.

Early support from personal friends, unofficially known as the Friends of Zoey, involved working to relieve the financial burden imposed by such a devastating medical tragedy. This group of supporters soon changed its name to become available to all members of the community and to attain tax-exempt status.

The group is now known as the Ridgecrest Barn Raisers and continues to work to help support the families of children diagnosed as chronically ill and offers a yearly scholarship in Zoey’s honor.

Zoey is survived by her parents, Pamela J. Ross and James P. Ross, Jr., both of Ridgecrest; sister Julia Page and husband Mike Nix of Ridgecrest; brother Jimmy Ross of Ridgecrest; grandparents Junie and Bell Miller and James and Sandra Ross; niece Nevaeh Nix; and nephews John Oden and Mikey Nix.

Story First Published: 2012-11-21