Yes, I would like to donate and help a child like Holly this Christmas
There will be an empty space where we should be hanging Holly’s stocking for Santa this year – our first Christmas without our precious girl who would have just turned six-years-old.
My name is Jenny and I’d like to tell you about the special care your local children’s hospice gave to my little girl who bravely battled cancer three times in her short life before we finally lost her in April this year.
Holly was our third child and little sister to Evie, now 11 and Jack, who is nearly nine.
I worked as a high school PE teacher and my husband Mark a construction site manager.
Holly had always been small, but it was only when she was three-years-old that we learnt her size was one of the symptoms of Bloom Syndrome – one of the rarest genetic conditions in the world that affects only 300 people across the globe.
The diagnosis floored us. People with Bloom Syndrome have an extraordinarily high risk of developing cancer and just a couple of months later our worst fears came true when a scan showed up a high-risk Wilm’s Tumour on her kidney.
The chemotherapy was gruelling but Holly was a fighter. After months of treatment our brave girl – now aged four – was given the all-clear and went into remission.
We threw a big party with a bouncy castle where 200 of our friends and family came to see her ring the bell to declare she was cancer free.
We went to Majorca where Holly met her first holiday friend – Daisy from Leeds. They became inseparable and we even visited each other back home. Daisy still reads her a bedtime story every night.
The rest of the summer holidays were spent having fun. She was forever dancing with her sister and playing games with her brother. She adored them and looked up to them.
Holly’s first day of school in the reception class of Hindley Green Primary School coincided with her first routine scan appointment – 6 September, 2021. It meant missing her first day at school but we knew how important it was. It was bad news. Holly had relapsed and a tumour was back. She went through more surgery and radiotherapy and beat it again.
But devastatingly it came back again in December, this time around the lungs. Over the next few months the disease progressed. This is when Derian House came into our lives.
We loved the hospice as soon as we walked in. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming.
We enjoyed a cinema visit as a family, where Holly chose to watch Trolls The Movie. They made us hotdogs and popcorn, which is a memory I’ll treasure. We visited the playground where Holly loved the swings.
She loved to joke around and had the most infectious laugh. She was always on her dad’s shoulders and she would always cheat at games!
Everyone always used to comment on her gorgeous red hair and beautiful smile. Even through tough times that smile was always there.
Holly loved to dance and was forever performing. She loved to learn and attended school as much as possible in between hospital appointments. She made lots of friends and her teachers fell in love with her. She used to write the Y in her name back-to-front.
Every night her dad would read her favourite story – Cheeky Monkey – where he’d do the funny voices. Then she’d give us both something she called “super-duper hugs and kisses” where she’d run across the full length of the room before hugging us tight.
Holly spent last Christmas Day in hospital having chemo. She was tired, pale and nauseous but we were hopeful she’d beat it again like she had before. But by March she had deteriorated. She’d lie in bed watching TV and Poppy our Cockapoo, who she adored, would sleep next to her.
Our brave girl finally passed away in my arms on April 8 this year.
She laid at rest in one of the special cold bedrooms at Derian House, which are called the Sunflower rooms. We made it feel like home with her princess bedding and favourite teddies – Soapy the dog, an elephant called Nelly and her favourite teddy Willy.
They played her favourite Disney songs.
It felt like we had been given a bit more time with her, a chance to all be together for the last time.
We sat at the side of her and shared our favourite memories.
We’ve been back to Derian House after Holly’s funeral to place a special pebble with her name on in their reflection garden, and we’ve started counselling sessions. We know they are always there for us if we need them.
Although we’ll be so very sad this Christmas wishing Holly was still with us, we will smile when we think of her and forever treasure the memories we made with our special little girl.