This Photo Sums Up Exactly What We Would Like To Say To Cancer

02/04/2014 05:48 pm ET | Updated Feb 05, 2014

Judging by the audacious and colorfully worded photo displayed at her memorial, Jessica Potts never let cancer break her.

When family and friends gathered on Jan. 27 to honor Potts -- a mom of three who died at age 31 after a five-year battle with brain cancer -- they chose to remember how she lived.

To help do so, her family shared this striking photo that embodied her lively spirit. (Readers who object to explicit language might want to skip the photo.)

The image features Potts -- a Kenosha, Wisc., native -- after she'd had a tumor removed. Her bald head is stapled down the middle into a T-shape. She gives the camera a sassy look while tipping her sunglasses. The picture frame simply reads, "Hey Cancer F*ck You."

jessica potts

After the memorial, Chris Herrera, Potts' friend since middle school, shared the photo on Imgur and Reddit hoping people outside of his circle could glean some inspiration from it.

"I wanted the world to see that cancer does not have to be a defining condition," Herrera wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "Jessica was a badass before and she continued to be a badass throughout her battle."

Sharing such bold photos and tributes is part of what advocates hope will make a difference in galvanizing more people to get involved in finding a cure for cancer -- a disease that will take more than 7 million lives this year.

Tuesday marks World Cancer Day, the awareness event when advocates come together to educate, dispel myths, honor victims and raise funds for a cure.

While Herrera hoped to raise awareness, he also just wanted the world to see how much Potts insisted on living even after being handed a death sentence.

"Granted she had her moments of weakness, but for the most part [Jessica] tried to stay positive and happy," Herrera told HuffPost. "There were times after her diagnosis that she would say that she felt more alive than ever before."

Potts underwent grueling chemotherapy treatments and multiple surgeries to remove tumors and deal with subsequent infections. But she never let the experience unravel into a "pity party," Herrera said. Potts even went as far as not telling friends about her procedures, so that they could see her and not just her cancer.

Ultimately, she succumbed to an infection, not the disease itself, an outcome that her family felt was fitting.

"She did not let cancer define who she was," Herrera said. "She was not 'Jessica, the one with brain cancer.' She was 'Jessica Potts, mother, friend and family.'"

If you're feeling inspired by Jessica Potts' fight for life, find out how you can get involved with World Cancer Day here.

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