Raising vital funds for life saving research into osteosarcoma.
On January 29th 1996, our beautiful baby girl was born. She grew up to be funny, kind and clever and gave nothing but happiness to everyone who knew her. Jess had big curly hair, a smile that could light up a room and a genuine curiosity about the world and everyone in it. Jess really loved her life and it showed in everything she did. She enjoyed books, sports, horses, being outdoors and camping. Her favourite TV programmes were Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Strictly Come Dancing and QI, especially Stephen Fry who she said she would like to have as an uncle! Jess loved her food, all the `P’s as she used to call them, pizza, pasta and pasties. She was a self-described `Harry Potter nerd and proud of it’ and was still holding out for her invitation letter to Hogwarts. Most of all Jess liked spending time with her friends and family and hanging out with `the camping crew’. Birthdays, Christmas or holidays, she loved to just hang out, laugh and have fun.
Jess died on December 8th 2010, aged 14 years, from primary bone cancer. Her loss devastated our family and friends and it has been hard for us to go on living without her. We have struggled to exist in the `normal’ world when we have no way of showing that we have suffered great loss and no way for people to know we are finding it hard.
Since Jess died we have talked to many others who live on without people they love. As a family we love the lines `I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart’ in the poem by EE Cummings. It occurred to us that we could create a way to communicate loss to others and hopefully encourage more openness and support in return to help us get through each day.
We created our forget-me-not `blue hearts’ which are intended to be worn by anyone who has suffered a great loss, for those who are recently bereaved or who just need to show they are missing someone special that day. We hope they bring some comfort and courage to bereaved people as they face the world again. All of the profits from the sale of the hearts are donated to support the work of the Bone Cancer Research Trust in Jess’ memory.
Our Bone Cancer Journey
“I know that the hands I’m in are the best in the UK, maybe even the world, and they say I’m going to get better in a year, and I trust them. Although a year might seem like forever to someone my age, in the great scheme of things it’s nothing. I can give up a year of my life to get rid of my cancer and live a long and happy life, right?” - Jessica Gower
Jess was a healthy and active girl. After she told us she had sat out on a PE lesson my husband took her to the GP who diagnosed growing pains/bursitis. Jess didn't feel she had been taken very seriously. One day when we decided to walk into town, Jess was obviously in pain and said she didn't think she could do it. I said something else must be wrong and took her back to the GP. She referred us to an NHS physiotherapist and rheumatologist.
The referral was likely to take 6 weeks so we decided to take Jess to a private physiotherapist. After a couple of visits I could tell the physio was worried and she agreed we should ask for an x-ray.The duty doctor saw us. He said that something was wrong and `bone disease' was a possibility. We had to wait for an appointment for an MRI. I remember sitting in oncology waiting for the appointment and hoping Jess didn't see the sign or realise what it meant. We received a phone call from Stanmore hospital to say that it was a tumour and we would need to come down for a biopsy and full tests. We were reassured that we were in good hands and they knew what to do. I asked Jess if she knew what they were testing for and she said `I might have cancer'.
Jess was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of primary bone cancer, in late August 2009. The osteosarcoma was already metastatic, in her lungs and had `jumped' to her upper arm from the main tumour her right hip. Jess had the standard protocol chemotherapy for osteosarcoma and major femoral hip replacement surgery in the November. Watching Jess go under for her operation (5/6 hours) was terrifying. A biopsy showed the initial chemo had limited effect. She had further chemo until the Spring of 2010 and radiotherapy the following September mainly to help with pain relief.
Jess coped because she truly believed she would be cured. She was positive and strong and protected everyone else, including us from any emotional distress she was feeling. I think she just tried to face whatever each day brought and tried not to think about the future. We carried on socialising where possible and built in lots of nice things/treats (e.g. holidays, get togethers) to look forward to. I think this really helped us all to get through.
The hardest part was when Jess stopped treatment. I remember she said `It's just us now' and I knew she meant there's nothing anyone else can do. It was her beginning to acknowledge what was going to happen. It is truly heartbreaking to have to tell your 14 year old daughter that she is going to die and then have to tell her 11 year old sister the same. I honestly don't know how we did it. Jess died peacefully at home on December 8th 2010, aged 14 years.
This is for you Jess. You and your big, happy, wonderful heart x
To read a diary entry written by Jess please follow this link.
Or text BCRT JESS TO 70800 to give £5
*Text donation costs the donation amount + standard network rate. The Jessica Gower My Blue Heart Fund will receive 100% of your donation.
“We hope that, one day, the trust that Jess had that someone would save her will be a reality for all other children, young people and adults fighting bone cancer”. - Shirley, Mic and Issy Gower
Get in touch if you would like to create your own special fund.