There’s no easy way for me to write this, so if this post seems a little more rambling than normal, I apologize. But I’m sad to report that Tristan “TJ” Fernandez, the teen diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in October 2014 and subsequently was the guest of honor at a benefit mini-con organized on his behalf last February, died this morning.
From a Facebook post by Jaret Fernandez, Tristan’s dad:
It’s with a heavy heart that we regret to say after a very hard fought battle with a brain stem tumor; TJ passed away this morning.
TJ was at home among close friends and family which was his final wish.
We wanted to thank all of you for your prayers this past year and will let you know about funeral services later this week.
I took the photo above, of TJ with members of the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion, at that fundraiser last year. Shared it in a post soon after the event, too. To see the local fan community rally around this ailing teen and offer him support, comfort and joy — both at the event and a tribute site, Wish for TJ (wishfortj.com), which remains up to this day — was truly inspiring. Equally inspiring was the word I got during Amazing Hawaii Comic Con in September, that TJ was able to make it out to attend that convention for a few hours.
An article by our Rob Shikina (subscription only) noted that when TJ got his cancer diagnosis, he was given one to three months to live.
He ended up living for 15 months.
Nineteen days into this new year, there have already been a number of notable deaths — David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Lemmy Kilmister, Glenn Frey. Not gonna lie … this one hurts the most. My condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the Fernandez family.