Family Christmas for brave Jessica

Photo Neil Cross'Jessica Holmes of Garstang with her mum and dad, Mandy and Bob
Photo Neil Cross'Jessica Holmes of Garstang with her mum and dad, Mandy and Bob
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This Christmas will be a very special one for a little girl who has beaten cancer - for it will be her first at home for three years.

Brave four-year-old Jessica Holmes has been battling leukaemia since 2013 and at one stage her parents were told she wouldn’t make it through the night. But Jessica battled on and this year she will be opening her presents and spending time with her family at home.

To signify the end of her cancer treatment, Jessica rung a bell on ward 84 at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital wearing a beautiful hand-made dress and presented cupcakes to staff.

Her mum Mandy, 42, who lived in Morecambe until recently said: “She has been given the all clear by doctors now.

“It’s been a terrible two years but Jess has just smiled and laughed through it.

“She will crack jokes to cheer everyone else up and she is always thinking of other people before herself.

“Last year they said she could come home but two days before Christmas she was back in hospital.

“She has asked Father Christmas for a Doc McStuffin and some aqua beads so we will see what Santa brings for her.

“We will just take each day as it comes and go with the flow.

“We just want a nice family Christmas at home.”

Although all the signs point to Jessica being able to spend Christmas at home, her parents Mandy and Bob have to monitor her temperature twice a day.

Mandy said: “If her temperature is over 38 degrees we just drop everything and take her to hospital. She could have an infection in her Hickman line. You’ve got to be so careful.”

After Christmas Jessica will be going to St Mary’s School in Claughton-on Brock but because she has been with her family 24/7, she is going to miss them.

Mandy said: “She has had to have home tutoring because she was supposed to start school last September but because she had been in intensive care and had infections she couldn’t.

“We have all been together for three years and she doesn’t want to leave me. She says ‘Are you going to pick me up from school’ but I think she is ready for it.

“She is four going on 44. She seems to know everything.”

Jessica, who now lives in Catterall, near Garstang with her mum Mandy and dad Bob, 45, and four siblings, was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer of the white blood cells in 2013.

Her mum Mandy and dad Bob were devastated at the shock diagnosis as they initially thought Jessica had become ill with a cold.

Jessica underwent intensive chemotherapy to beat the illness and lost all her curly hair.

She started having back pain and tests revealed that the gruelling treatment had caused nine compressed fractures to her spine.

Like other children battling leukaemia, Jessica took part in the Beads of Courage journey.

For each element of treatment Jessica underwent, she was given a different coloured bead. Every time she had a hospital visit, she receives a yellow bead and for each blood transfusion, she got a red one.

Mandy, who has four other children, had her own business called Mandy’s Home Help and used to work for Bare Hall Carers in Morecambe. Her husband Bob is an HGV driver.

Mandy now cares for Jessica full-time.

Mandy said: “You never expect something like this to suddenly happen to your child and when it does, it knocks you sideways.”

Mandy said: “We would like to thank everybody who helped us on Jessica’s cancer journey.”

The family set up the Jessica Holmes Family Fund to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House, where the family stayed for a month after Jessica’s diagnosis.