Postcards from the World – Jessie’s Story
Mel Stocks knew something was wrong with 14-month-old Jessie a week after she was born but says “no one would listen”
Mel said that as she already had an older daughter she knew the difference between a well and poorly baby – Jessie was very lethargic and continually had flu-like symptoms; she had no appetite, was very prone to nasty colds and chest infections, and wasn’t as alert as her sister had been.
Jessie was prescribed antibiotics more times than her mom can remember but they never made any real difference. Mom Mel says it was as though she had no immune system and couldn’t fight anything off.
From the age of 9 months, Jessie’s appetite began to diminish and she suffered with diarrhoea, as well as having night sweats where she would wake up dripping wet.
Mel noticed lumps under Jessie’s rib cage and went to a GP who ignored her concerns. A fortnight later, on a second visit, another doctor examined young Jessie and immediately sent her to hospital. She was diagnosed with an iron deficiency and severe anaemia at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, but within weeks Jessie developed spots on her ankles.
After a staggering 50 visits to various doctors, little Jessie Stocks was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) as well as a Philadelphia Chromosome Gene, which is rare in children and made the leukaemia difficult to treat when she was just 14 months old.
Jessie needed a platelet and blood transfusion and was started on chemotherapy; unfortunately the chemo did not work and Jessie needed a bone marrow transplant, which, after an intense high dose of chemotherapy to prepare her body for the procedure, she had in June last year.
Brave little Jessie, now 2 years old, has spent the past 17 months in hospital, with her family staring wistfully out of the window of the cancer ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital across the road to Weston Park, watching other families and friends meet, play, laugh and go about their lives seemingly without a care.
Although Jessie is now leukaemia-free, she has suffered several complications from the transplant and side effects from the chemotherapy.
In an effort to bring a little bit of the wider world into her hospital room and brighten up her and sister Macy’s day, her family launched a special appeal for holidaymakers to send in their postcards from around the world so they can create a world map of some of the planet’s most exotic locations.
Mum Mel said: “All my Jessie really knows are these four walls after spending 17 months in hospital and she is only two-years-old. Please lets show her there is a big wide world out there waiting for her to go see and explore with her big sister, mum and dad.”
The appeal was shared more than 2000 times just a day after it was posted on Facebook, and to date the wonderful global community has responded with so much love that Jessie has received in excess of 5,000 postcards from all over the world.
Video made by BBC Lifestyle & Health News
Mel says she had the idea for the postcards to decorate Jessie’s room which the family have “had to make into our home”.
“I thought it would be really nice to brighten the girls’ room up and in the process teach Macy about different countries and where they are and teach Jessie there is more than four walls and a view out of the window.
“There’s a big world out there we would like to take her to see.”
Jessie’s isolation cubicle has since been transformed in an amazing way with the thousands of colourful postcards from exciting and exotic locations across the world and a map of the world is quickly being covered in flag pins signifying each location from which Jessie has received a postcard.
“Just seeing her with Macy, the two of them sat on the bed next to each other passing out an envelope each and saying ‘go’, and both trying to get into them.
“They were sat there and Macy was reading them to Jessie. It was amazing seeing the smiles on their faces.
“We’ve had a couple of animal ones and Jessie loves animals and as soon as she sees them that’s it.
“One of them was of a kangaroo and she was over the moon, ‘hop hop hop’. She loves them.”
One woman also donated a rucksack containing around 2,000 postcards which she had collected throughout her life.
“I’m so overwhelmed by the response by people out there, that don’t know us or what we’ve been through, taking the time to read and share it and send stuff in,” said Mel.
Send Postcards To:
Jessie and Macy Stocks
c/o Sheffield Childrens Hospital, Ward M3,
Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TH.