By Talissa Patrick—
When Shaneice Brittingham, J/MS 2012, was battling thyroid cancer, she used her compassion and her journalism education to start a foundation aimed at helping others with the disease.
Then she created and trademarked a catchy slogan to promote her non-profit.
“If cancer couldn’t beat me, what makes you think you can?” is now emblazoned on T-shirts, car magnets, and bumper stickers that raise money for Brittingham’s charity, the Fight4Life Cancer Foundation.
Sadly, Brittingham is not here to see the good she has done. The 24-year-old from Ewing died on June 12 at Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital in New Brunswick, just a month after her graduation from J/MS.
Her supportive family is carrying on the work of Fight4Life without Brittingham, who “never complained” and “kept a beautiful smile on her face” throughout her chemotherapy treatments, doctor visits and hospitalizations, said her mother, Susan Brittingham, who is president of her daughter’s foundation.
Shaneice Brittingham had been diagnosed with small cell thyroid cancer in 2007 after complaining of a lump in her throat that wouldn’t go away. While being treated, she obtained her associate degree from Mercer County Community College and came to Rutgers to study journalism in 2010.
She carried a full course load, wrote for the Scarlet Scroll, a website run by J/MS students, and dreamed of a career in TV or film. She also found time to work at the ARC of Mercer County, where she coached youngsters with developmental disabilities,
“Nothing could keep her down,” Susan Brittingham said of her daughter. “Even when she was tired and drained from the treatments, she managed to make the Dean’s List.”
Many of Brittingham’s friends at Rutgers called her “Neicey.” They are eager to participate in the activities of the foundation, which raises money for research, education and awareness.
“What I loved most about Neicey was her fight,” said Lakeisha Jacobs, a childhood friend and fellow 2012 graduate. “She was determined, and no matter what, she never let her disease get in the way. She’s always been an inspiration, but now more than ever. I choose to put my best foot forward and not complain for her. Her memory will live on through the contribution we’ll make on her behalf.”
Neicey wasn’t a boxer, but she loved what boxing symbolized, a good and fair fight.
On Nov. 10 the Brittinghams hosted a bowling party to celebrate the birthday and life of Brittingham at Slocum’s Bar & Grille in Ewing. The venue’s capacity is 120 people. Tyhera Brittingham, Shaneice’s sister, sold 120 tickets to family and friends with many more wanting to attend.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for everyone to celebrate Shaneice’s life and be with others that are also dealing with her passing,” said childhood friend Rayshaun Jones. “For the family it’s good because it provides comfort to know they’re not alone in dealing with their loss.”