Today we’d like to share the story of Jill Weaver and her daughter Jess. Recently Jill published her first book of poetry, inspired by Jess. Below, Jill explains a little about their story.
‘Jess was an eight year old little girl who loved her family, friends and being mischievous! She was spirited, kind and loved making noise, particularly on her euphonium! She was generally happy, healthy and enjoyed being a ‘mini mum’ as she would say (the sunglasses picture below perhaps explains where that name came from!), but only eight years and two months into her life, everything changed.
On 18th September 2019, we received the most devastating news; Jess had leukaemia. We couldn’t believe it – only hours earlier, Jess had been playing at school.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (cancer of the blood) progresses quickly and aggressively, so we were instantaneously catapulted into a world of chemotherapy, operations, transfusions, hospital stays, intensive care and lots of medical procedures that (up until that point) we had very little knowledge of. As adults, we were frightened, knowing all too well the fragility of human life. But Jess was a fighter; her bravery and courage were part of who she was, so we were hopeful that would help to get her through.
We were surrounded by knowledgeable professionals, promising statistics and lots of help and support. All of which reassured us we were in good hands and helped us to tackle the battle head-on. Charities such as Candlelighters helped us along the way; they offer support (for both patients and families), practical advice, and relief in terms of normality and fun (wherever possible) in between the medical procedures. We will forever be thankful to them and have raised over £10k for them since October 2019.
In spite of all this, 18th October 2019 brought some tragic news. Exactly a month after diagnosis, Jess lost her battle. None of us were expecting it. Like her diagnosis, Jess’ death was sudden – only hours earlier, she’d been painting pictures in the hospital playroom. At the time, no one could explain to us what had happened. Not only had we lost our beautiful, spirited, mischievous little girl, but we didn’t understand why.
The doctor with us explained that medical advances in children’s leukaemia had come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. The disease, the infection, and the treatment used to fight the leukaemia (whilst necessary) all combined were too much for Jess to cope with. Medically speaking, Jess had been one of the statistics we were warned about – one of the children who wouldn’t make it.
Jess will never be a statistic to us. She was the loving, spirited little girl who taught us about bravery and courage and about looking for the rainbows when it rains. As Jess’ mum, I am committed that Jess’ memory will live on, that her fighting spirit keeps going (in every sense of the word!) and that something positive will come of our tragedy. I would love to see a world where no child and family ever has to experience what we did.’ – Jill Weaver
Since losing Jess, Jill has raised funds for Candlelighters in her memory in various ways and now will donate some of the proceeds from her book – ‘In Our Shoes’ to further help other children and families facing childhood cancer. We are so grateful to Jill for this kind gesture which will help us to continue supporting families across Yorkshire when they most need it.
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