Lin, Jennifer's mother, shares her story.
Jennifer was extremely close to her family who were the most important thing in her life. She was thoughtful, caring, loving and giving but most of all she was beautiful both inside and out.
Jennifer was always a healthy, happy child. Her hobbies were Ballroom Dancing and Cheerleading. She loved music, dance and art and filled our home with all of these things. Her ambition was to be a fashion designer. I would have described Jennifer as a healthy, active, happy teenager with no cares in the world until one day all that changed.
During September 2002 Jennifer started to complain of pains in her right side, I took her to our GP who examined her and said it was probably growing pains or her hormones changing due to her being 13. Several more weeks passed by, and again no signs of the pain going. Again we returned to the GP who said that it was probably a pulled muscle from dancing which could take several weeks to heal. The pain was getting worse and early November Jennifer collapsed in PE. I took her straight to the hospital and insisted on an X-Ray. A&E said that they could see nothing on the X-Ray but would refer her for some Physiotherapy to see if that helped. Relieved we went home feeling re-assured.
Several weeks passed whilst waiting for an appointment, during which time the pain was increasing and keeping her awake, she had developed a limp and swelling had appeared on her side.
I telephoned the hospital for an emergency appointment with the Physio. On examining her the Physio looked extremely concerned and recalled her X-Ray. He noticed calcification on this, which we now know was the tumour that had been missed by A&E. Within an hour Jennifer received a CT scan and had further X-Rays. We were told that they suspected a large Haematoma (blood clot) and wanted us to go to Birmingham to see a specialist for a Biopsy.
On 12th December, Birmingham carried out the Biopsy and further scans and confirmed that Jennifer had osteosarcoma in her upper femur. We were told that the tumour was large, so she would have to have Chemo first to shrink it, then they would remove the bone and replace it with a metal prosthesis. They said after this she should be able to lead a normal, active life. Jennifer, although in shock and disbelief like the rest of us, remained extremely positive.
However, on 28th December following full body scans at Alder Hey, we were told that Jennifer also had metastases (secondary tumours) in her lungs. Her chemo and operation were now viewed as life saving, not limb saving.
Due to Christmas, her chemo could not start until 8th January 2003.nearly one month after diagnosis. During chemo she was extremely ill. We all know the side effects, hair loss, constant vomiting, diarrhoea, rapid weight loss. In the months that followed we didn't think it could get worse, but in March it did. The chemo was not working nor halting the growth or spread of cancer, the main tumour was now inoperable, even complete amputation was no longer an option and she now had 17 metastases in her lungs. We were told that Jennifer was terminal. In less than four months our whole world fell apart.
In April Jennifer contracted Septicaemia from the chemo and was in intensive care and we were told that she would not make it. But somehow against all odds she pulled through with her pure determination and will to survive. It was after this that we brought her home and decided to seek Alternative Holistic Treatment. In June, the consultant offered us Radiotherapy as palliative care to try to ease her discomfort and slow things down, but this only appeared to accelerate her illness. Her poor body could not possibly take any more and she was now becoming breathless.
Jennifer never knew that she was terminal. While there is life there is always hope. She remained so strong and determined to beat this and she was an inspiration to us all and made us all feel so humble. Never once did she ever complain or say "WHY ME?"
On the 6th August she woke up gasping for air, her lungs were collapsing. She was so scared and I think at this point, when she looked at me with her frightened eyes seeking re-assurance, I know she realised she was dying. The Macmillan nurses put her on oxygen and sedated her slowly. Six long days later on 12th August 2003 at 7.30p.m Jennifer passed away in our arms at home surrounded by love. Her battle lost, her suffering over and ours had just begun. Our only beautiful daughter had died and with her a huge part of us and our future.