Aged just five and a half, Jess Wade was diagnosed with a form of kidney cancer called bilateral Wilms’ tumour.
What followed was an intense course of chemotherapy and operations to both kidneys. Her family are in awe of how Jess, now aged 12 and six years in remission, has dealt with it all, and even raised money for the oncology ward. Her nominator for the Grantham is Great Child Achiever award said: “She is a true inspiration to all who know her”, and we can see why. Her mum, Lindsay, told us more.
When was Jess diagnosed?
In February 2007 - Jess had been poorly for a couple of months, but every time we took her to the doctors we were told it was an ear infection or tonsillitis. Then one day at school Jess had a high temperature, lump in her side and kept moaning in pain. The doctors said she may have a water infection, to keep an eye on her and bring her back if no better. I knew that something wasn’t right and after she had a restless night myself and her dad Anthony took her to A&E. An emergency ultrasound found a mass in her left kidney pushing on her ribs. Then at QMC a CT scan revealed it was a tumour the weight of an orange, with another tumour growing in her right kidney. Jess underwent six weeks of intense chemotherapy, after which they operated and removed 80 per cent of her left kidney and 20 per cent of her right. Another 18 months of chemotherapy to remove further cancerous cells took its toll - she lost her hair, had no appetite, and was sick everytime she had chemo. But Jess had a fantastic oncologist, Professor Richard Grundy, who I owe my graditute to - he saved my daughter, cared for her, made sure she was on the right treatment plan, and has remained there throughout Jess’ illness.
How would you describe what you’ve been through?
As a parent, all you want is for your child to be healthy and well, but when they are diagnosed with cancer there is nothing you can do but watch your child be made extremely sick by the chemotherapy. You feel helpless that there is nothing you can do to take the pain and suffering away. All we could do as a family was make Jess feel loved, and for her to know that we were there with her every step of the way during her treatment. She has a younger brother Daniel, aged nine, and our fantastic family were a great support - hands on when we needed their help.
And Jess did a school bake sale to raise money for the ward? Yes, Jess is a pupil at KGGS and wanted to do the bake sale as a way of saying ‘Thank You’ for what they have done for her. They raised over £70 and the money is going towards the E38 Oncology ward, where she made many friends.
What are the family’s plans for 2015? To enjoy life and keep Jess in top health. She would like to start a charity, so that’s something we’re looking into doing. I have been inspired by Jess. She has taken everything in her stride and dealt with it head on - even at her sickest, she always had a smile on her face and battled on no matter how ill she felt.