N.J. girl whose love for books went viral has died

A Vineland girl whose story about her medical condition spurred a book collection drive before the holidays last year has died.

According to a GoFundMe page “Love for Lena,” Evangelina “Lena” Tietjen, a 5-year-old diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, Grade 3 Anaplastic Astrocytoma, died Nov. 5. Her death comes nearly a year after her tumor was discovered.

“We have countless memories of Lena over the past five years and 10 months,” the Love for Lena page said in a statement. “We miss and remember our sassy, funny, carefree preschooler pre-diagnosis, but Lena also became, over the past year, the strongest GBM warrior we could ever imagine.”

The GoFundMe page also said Tietjen underwent eight surgeries, radiation and other methods of rehabilitation to help the young girl.

In a 2017 interview with ABC News, Lena’s father Matt Tietjen said his daughter loved to read.

“She loves to be read to,” Tietjen told ABC News. “She was always the one who would grab a book and take it to the corner to try and read it herself.”

Her story went viral. Books were sent to Lena from across the county, including from some students in Deerfield Township.

People who followed her story and the donation page were sad to hear the news.

“I am so sorry for your loss,” a commenter on the GoFundMe page posted. “Although I did not know Lena personally, she captured my heart and my soul. I admire the courage and positive attitude you showed during this overwhelmingly difficult time. My thoughts and prayers remain with you now and forever. Lena, you are the most beautiful of all angels….fly little one…”

Funeral arrangements for Lena have not yet been released.

Chris Franklin can be reached at cfranklin@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @cfranklinnews. Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

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