ST. LOUIS (AP) - Jacqueline "Jackie" Donahue, a sister of Grammy-winning rapper
Nelly, died Thursday at a St. Louis hospital after a long battle with leukemia, the artist's publicist said.
Donahue had been diagnosed with leukemia on March 29, 2001. The cancer was in remission for nearly two years before she suffered a relapse, p rompting Nelly to arrange a number of bone marrow drives. A match was never found.
Publicist Jane Higgins said Nelly and Donahue, who had the same father, were very close as they grew older. Donahue, a 31-year-old mother of two, worked as Nelly's stylist until her illness forced her to leave that position.
In March 2003, Nelly and Donahue formed a campaign called "Jes Us 4 Jackie" to find donors for Donahue and others, and to raise awareness about bone marrow donations.
Donahue's family said in a statement they were "deeply saddened" by her death and offered their thanks for those who had supported her and the bone marrow drives.
"We are very proud of her efforts to educate and raise awareness about the disease and the need for African-Americans to join the National Donor Registry," the family said.
"She will always be remembered for her loving spirit, energy and unshakable faith."
The 30-year-old rapper said through Universal Records that several dates on his tour had been postponed.
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