Our Jess was born and raised in Long Eaton, Nottingham. She was a normal 15 year old girl in her first year of GCSE's at Trent College. She loved hanging out with friends, singing, listening to music, going to concerts, playing netball, skiing and surfing. Jess had the usual teenage preoccupations: homework, friendship worries, boys and everything to do with her appearance, but she also had hopes and dreams for her future: completing her education, following a career, falling in love, marrying and having children of her own.
All those dreams came to an end on 27th April 2012 when, after suddenly falling ill with headaches and vomiting, she was admitted to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham. An MRI the following day showed that Jess had a large tumour deep in her brain. An emergency operation removed some of the tumour and sadly the histology showed that it was and Anaplastic Astrocytoma - an aggressive brain cancer.
She struggled through her operations, weeks of radiotherapy and months of chemotherapy with tremendous strength and dignity. Our beautiful daughter lost her hair, gained weight, lost all her energy and had to give up sports including her beloved netball.
Despite all of this Jess managed to return to school in September 2012 and attended hospital for chemotherapy infusions every other week. She was always smiling, never complained and still took time to listen to and support her friends. Jess even completed her silver Duke of Edinburgh training expedition in October, although she had to return to QMC for a further chemotherapy infusion in the middle of it; she went back to the expedition the following day.
Jess completed the Autumn term at school but over Christmas 2012 she fell ill and it was discovered that the tumour had grown again and become even more aggressive than before. She had a further major operation in early January this year, at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, but we knew there was no hope of a cure and that it was simply to give us as much time together as possible.
Jess lost her battle and died peacefully at home surrounded by family and loved ones on February 26th 2013. Only 10 months after diagnosis.
We filled those 10 months with as much living as possible: trips to London theatre-land, Harry Potter World, musical concerts, spa and pamper days, holidays in Cornwall with family and CentreParcs with friends, Jess saw Usain Bolt win gold live at the Olympics and she even managed to go skiing in the French Alps.
Jess leaves behind her, dad John, 18 year old brother Sam, 14 year old brother Tom and myself.
Her loss is devastating and our hearts are broken but Jess is our inspiration. This foundation has been set up as a tribute to her grace and bravery. It is part of Jess's legacy. The foundation's aims are: to raise awareness of brain tumours in young people, to fund vital research into the causes of and treatments for brain cancers in children and young people (they are not necessarily mini versions of the adult cancer), gift items and equipment to the Children and Young Adult's Oncology Ward at QMC, Nottingham and to help brighten the lives of young people in the East Midlands living with cancer by funding gifts, trips and outings.
The charities we support are close to our hearts: HeadSmart, the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre, Nottingham University Hospitals Charity, the teenage cancer unit planned for QMC and Rainbows Hospice (who kindly cared for Jess in their Quiet Room after her death).
Many thanks for your support,
Jess's mum, Dr Karen Gauntley