Sunderland girl, 12, fights back from leukaemia - here's how you can help her

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'Our beautiful girl proved them all wrong'

A Sunderland girl has defied the odds to fight back from cancer - and you can help her in the next stage of her battle.

Jessica Hunter, 12, has come through leukaemia, sepsis, a heart attack, a leaky ventricle and necrosis.

Jessica with mum Joanne and dad Graeme as she continues her health battles.Jessica with mum Joanne and dad Graeme as she continues her health battles.
Jessica with mum Joanne and dad Graeme as she continues her health battles. | ugc

It all began when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in August 2021 after random bruises began appearing on her arms, legs and back.

Chemo, steroids and transfusions

She was in pain whenever she walked or ran and couldn’t look at the light.

She spent two weeks on a ventilator at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and spent four weeks in hospital.

Jessica pictured in hospital during her fight for life.Jessica pictured in hospital during her fight for life.
Jessica pictured in hospital during her fight for life. | ugc

A constant round of chemotherapy, steroids and blood transfusions followed and her legs became so weak that she was confined to a wheelchair.

She wasn't expected to survive

But her battles were not over. In the months that followed;

She developed sepsis and was transferred to the Freeman Hospital. Her parents - mum Joanne, 45, and dad Graeme, 52, were told she was not expected to survive the short ambulance ride between the hospitals.

Jessica pictured just weeks before her health battles began in August 2021.Jessica pictured just weeks before her health battles began in August 2021.
Jessica pictured just weeks before her health battles began in August 2021. | ugc

She had a heart attack and had to be resuscitated.

She was put on a heart machine and her family was told that her chances of successfully coming off it were slim.

Jessica's battle continues and you can help.Jessica's battle continues and you can help.
Jessica's battle continues and you can help. | ugc

She has avascular necrosis which is the death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply.

And she has a leaky valve in her left ventricle.

'Our beautiful girl proved them all wrong'

Jessica's mum Joanne said: "Against all odds, our beautiful girl proved them all wrong and successfully came off the ECMO machine.

"After three weeks in intensive care at The Freeman, one week in intensive care at the RVI and four more months as an inpatient we could finally go home."

Jessica eventually rang the bell in her fight with ALL. Once she got home, the battling youngster slept in a hospital bed in the sitting room for four months with mum constantly by her side.

Jessica gets some practice in on her walking frame.Jessica gets some practice in on her walking frame.
Jessica gets some practice in on her walking frame. | ugc

Mum said: "My husband had to carry her upstairs as she was too weak and obviously can’t walk to the bath or shower seat."

She has fought back so much that she had done the Race for Life in her wheelchair for the last two years.

A beautiful smile despite the threat of more cancer

Jessica works on her stretches, exercises and practises standing and walking using her walking frame.

Mum added: "She is at risk of a relapse, needs regular checks for the next five years and beyond, and is more likely to develop secondary cancers."

"Jessica is just amazing. She never lets any of this faze her. She gets through it all with a beautiful smile on her face.

"She attends sewing and cooking classes, has just returned to netball, she enjoys having her friends round to our house and going to school when she is well enough."

How you can give Jessica your support

But Jessica still needs support - and Sunderland woman Maureen Thompson is hoping Echo followers can help.

Maureen Thompson.Maureen Thompson.
Maureen Thompson. | ugc
Allan Thompson who loved to help other people.Allan Thompson who loved to help other people.
Allan Thompson who loved to help other people. | ugc

Last year, she raised £6,000 to be shared between three courageous little ones, Marco Haynes, Beatrix Archbold and Finlay Jake Featherstone.

'I was immediately on board'

Now she's hoping to help Jessica by raising enough money and support for a downstairs wet room and toilet to be installed in the family home.

Maureen said: "Having spoken to Joanne about the struggle Jessica has - just to go to the toilet which is something we don't have a second thought about - I was immediately on board to do all I can."

Joanne said: "When I heard about Maureen wanting to give her support, I just sobbed."

Maureen will be holding her annual fundraising night at the Alexandra in Grangetown on October 5 with Jessica as her chosen cause.

But she wants to make a difference as soon as possible.

"I want to get some companies behind me to supply what I will need," said Maureen.

Businesses interested in helping can email [email protected]

She would also love to hear from anyone who can provide raffle prizes and donations.

Get in touch via [email protected]