Notes Left Behind

Notes Left Behind
Notes Left Behind  
Notes left behind.jpg
The cover of Notes Left Behind
Author(s) Keith and Brooke Desserich
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date 2009
Pages 272
ISBN 978-0061886393

Notes Left Behind is a 2009 non-fiction book by Keith and Brooke Desserich, the parents of a six-year-old girl named Elena who died of cancer. The book is a publication of some of the hundreds of notes Elena left for her parents to find after her death. It follows Elena's battle against brain cancer.



Elena Desserich, from the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming, Ohio, United States, was diagnosed with an inoperable rare form of brain cancer in 2006 and her parents were told she had just 135 days to live. Her parents vowed to make what remained of Elena's life as special as possible. She lived for 9 months after her diagnosis, eventually being paralysed and left unable to speak by the cancer. She died in August 2007. Shortly after, her parents and younger sister began finding notes all over the house.[1][2] Her parents didn't tell Elena her prognosis, but retrospectively believe that she knew it.[2]


After her diagnosis at the age of five, Elena Desserich wrote hundreds of "love messages" to her parents, Keith and Brooke Desserich, who published the notes in Notes Left Behind in 2009.[1] She hid the messages at various places in their house so that her parents would find them after her death.[3] Elena, who turned 6 in the nine months between her diagnosis and her death, died in August 2007 and her parents published the book in November 2009. The book also contains entries from Elena's parents' diary as well as several of Elena's drawings.[1]

Her parents said that they found the first of the notes several days after Elena's death, but "then they kept on showing up everywhere and now we have three large boxes full of them".[1]


Originally self-published in 2009, it soon received national attention and was later re-published in 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers. It was listed as a New York Times Best Seller shortly thereafter.[4]

After her death, one of Elena's paintings, which she titled I love You, was displayed at the Cincinnati Art Museum next to a work by Pablo Picasso, one of Elena's lifelong ambitions which she had recorded on her wish list during her illness.[5]

The authors, Brooke and Keith Desserich, live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and founded the Cure Starts Now Foundation, an organization dedicated to researching a cure for all cancers, starting first with pediatric brain cancer. A percentage of the funds raised from the sale of Notes Left Behind goes towards the Cure Starts Now Foundation.[2]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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