We remember and honor those touched by hereditary cancer.

Stay up to date on research and information

Sign Up for FORCE Newsletters
Tribute > Carissa Marie "Reesa" Brown

Tribute in Memory of: Carissa Marie "Reesa" Brown

Carissa Marie "Reesa" Brown
Carissa Marie "Reesa" Brown

Beloved daughter, sister, wife and mother.

Personal Story

A special note. Carissa's family would like you to share your thoughts and memories of Carissa (Reesa). If you would like to add to this tribute page, please send your notes to Barbara Pfeiffer ([email protected]) for posting.

From Deborah, Carissa's Mother

Carissa Marie Brown left us on Jan 12, 2012. Carissa was a writer,
sister, wife and mother of a nine month old girl and 13 year old son.

Above all to me she was a wonderful daughter and taught me many things that helped shaped who I am today.

Known to many as Reesa Brown, she had a thirst for life, love, happiness, traveling and writing. Reesa chronicled her journey with cancer at

Please post your tribute to my loving daughter. Her brother and I want to know how Reesa touched your life.

Here are a few links to postings about my daughter.

Carissa my daughter, from the moment I first held you and counted your fingers and toes, I knew my life would never be the same. You and your brother are precious gifts.

Thank you for telling me that I was a wonderful mother and thank you for being my friend.

You were always concerned about everyone and wanted the best of health and happiness for those you love and for those you never met. I cherish the friendship we developed as you grew and I miss you so terribly much.

Through your eyes as you grew I saw the world differently and through your eyes as you were dying I saw everything change.

I wish that I could have made this horrid disease stop and take away your endless pain and I know that you would not want another human being to suffer as you suffered. May a cure be found soon.

I will forever miss your love, wisdom, smile and touch. - Love Mom


From Ken, Carissa's Father

My life was so enriched when you were added into my world, and it will never be the same with your vibrant, loving presence missing. I am so blessed to have had you in my life for 34 years. Thank you for being the child dreams are made of. Rest well, Dear Daughter.


From Derek, Carissa's Brother:

On January 12th, 2012 at 3:10pm, my brilliant and amazing sister Carissa Brown passed away. After beating a long battle with cancer, her kidneys failed due to other complications, complications which also prevented her from receiving the drugs and surgery that probably would have saved her life. I can't even begin to describe how devastated I am by her passing, so I'll just post a poem that I wrote for her before she left us:

Sister; Inspiration

Within a brilliant mind,
formed the perfect role model for a loving brother.
You instilled in me the concept of empathy,
a love of books and of reading them,
a love of writing,
and (even when I didn't know it) a deep-rooted obsession with learning.

You taught me one of the most important questions to ask in this life is: "Why?",
and always encouraged me to do my best,
by constantly striving to do yours.

You are a fighter, a survivor; indeed one of the strongest women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

It is, in part, because of these things that I am the person I am today.
Without the comforting light of your presence in my early years, who knows where I'd be right now.

You are a true inspiration.


From Holly Eliot, mother-in-law

Reesa was a magnet for people who gathered around at her call for gaming, writing, dancing and hanging out. Even when she was ill, she ran her household like a ringleader. She made a wonderful, warm home for her husband Nathan (my son), The Teen and her newborn baby girl, as well as a wide circle of friends. She was intelligent, challenging, courageous and determined. Her writing will continue to inspire us all and teach medical professionals some very worthwhile lessons. We miss her.


From Mary Bass, Carissa's Step-Mother

Daughter Not Of My Blood But Of My Heart And Soul

How fortunate for me to have had the gift
of you from the young age of ten
with the lift of spirit you gave me
each time I saw you, heard your voice, read your words.

What lessons of love you bestowed
upon me and many others
that the glow of your presence
imparted in our lives.

We miss you deeply and always will
each and every day
as time progresses and until,
in heaven, we shall see you again.


From Katherine Taylor, Family friend

Carissa I met you only a few days before you died. That day you had such strength and dignity even as you moved through your frightening journey. You taught me about love through your enormous connection to your daughter. You gave me a gift by reminding me of the great love that my own Mother shared with me even as she struggled through her battle with breast cancer. Thank you for reminding me of the great value of love and family.


From Susan Kading,

I did not know Reesa personally. But through her writing, I feel she touched my life profoundly, and I grieve her loss.

I don't remember exactly how or when I first found her blog. I will always remember the way she wrote about her experiences with cancer, so direct and forthright and brave, and at the same time always so positive. She was remarkably both strong and vulnerable about the things she felt. It was a direct result of her writing about her first cancer experience that I began doing self breast exams (we all know we should do them, but it's so easy to forget and then make excuses). The second month, I found a lump. I was terrified, but because of Reesa I knew how important it was not to blow it off, so I resisted the urge to procrastinate and delay and pretend nothing was wrong, and immediately began working on getting all the information and medical care I needed. Because she had written not just about her experience, but about her feelings both good and bad, I knew some of what to expect, and always felt like I could get through it. I can't count how many times I started to feel really scared and panicked, but the thought of something Reesa had written would come back to me, and I would tell myself, "She got through this. People do get through this. It's normal to feel all of these frightening things. You can do this."

And I did get through it, wonderfully and without complications, and I really believe that is because of how early I found it. My life is very good now.

Since then, I've struggled twice more with what seemed to be life-threatening illnesses (an asthma incident that -was- actually a very close call, and post-concussion symptoms that were initially alarming but thankfully resolved after a few weeks with inner-ear therapy). Both times I was weak and afraid and unable to leave my bed for a few weeks, and both times (October and December of this year) it was remembering things Reesa was writing about how to be brave and keep fighting and also stay positive that helped me get through them without completely breaking down. Her words really did point the way for me, so that I could find my own path through some very dark and scary times. I wanted to thank her, but at first I was so sick, and then it was obvious she was struggling so much, and it seemed just wrong to compare my experiences in any way with hers, and then she stopped writing so I thought she must really need to focus on getting better . . .

I'm so sorry I didn't write to her. So very, very sorry.

I know I didn't really know her, but feel like one of my heroes has passed away. It breaks my heart, and I hurt for all of you, so much. There's nothing I can think of or say that can ever make any of this okay.

All I can think of to do is to keep her words in my heart, and hug my husband and little boy as much as I can think of, to stop and love the sunrise whenever I'm blessed to be up early enough to see it, and to be open and vulnerable, and also strong and compassionate, as often as I can remember. I feel like if I could someday pass along to someone else the same confidence and encouragement that Reesa unknowingly gave to me, well, that maybe she would like that. I don't know. But I will do the best I can, with what I have.

I will always remember her.

Donate Online to This Tribute (please note in the comments to which tribute this should be attributed)

Make a donation to help improve the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary cancer.

People who have donated to this tribute

Derek Brown
Deborah Smalley
Rebecca Stamps
Mike Bailey
Dianne White
Karen Skinner
Shannon Boswell
Joyce Shelton
Brenda D Terry
Greg Gerzina
Holly Eliot
Jennifer Miles
Theresa Valadez-Cotton/David Cotton
Mary Bass and Ken Brown
Katherine Taylor and Bryan Lucas
Brian Parsons
Craig and Liz Stephens
Darlene Foster
David Ibarra
University of Michigan Pathology Department
Michelle Cook
Jonathan Bass
Chuck's Automotive Repair Inc.