Two best friends who had lost touch were reunited on a hospital ward – where their six-year-old son and daughter were both battling cancer.
Mums Louisa Jarvis, 26, and Jessica Coob, 30, had been friends for years but drifted apart after Jessica gave birth to her daughter Caitlyn in 2010.
They were re-united in tragic circumstances when they walked past each other on Sheffield Children’s Hospital cancer ward.
Their kids Lucas Jarvis-Holmes and Ellie Coob, both six, were both diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia exactly a year apart.
After visiting hospital every week for the past two years for countless rounds of chemotherapy, both Lucas and Ellie finished their treatment at the same time.
Now firm friends, they celebrated their remission by ringing the ward bell together.
Now the foursome have become as ‘thick as thieves’ having spent the summer holidays enjoying playdates.
Louisa, from Dronfield, Sheffield, said: “It was just a normal routine visit when I spotted Jessica walking across the ward.
“That evening I went on Facebook and couldn’t see anything on her wall mentioning it so I doubted if it was actually her.
“I started off my message with ‘Please don’t say this is happening to you too’ – but it was.
“I told her I was always here for her as I was going through the exact same thing.”
Jessica added: “It was great that we could be there for one another.
“It wasn’t just us who reconnected but so did our partners.
“Chris and Louisa’s partner Damian had also lost touch but during the treatment they would go to the gym three to four times a week and would have each other to talk to.
“It can be hard for men to have to go to work and pay the bills while the mum and kids and in hospital poorly.
“It was great that we were able to be there for one another and the kids were there for each other too.
“Lucas would hold Ellie’s hand when she was getting a blood test.”
Lucas was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2014 and had already been receiving treatment for a year when they spotted eachother in the hospital.
After reaching out to one another the pair began to organise their weekly appointments together.
Jessica recalled: “The first week was really scary. My husband Chris and I didn’t sleep at all.
“For the first six months, we were in Sheffield Children’s Hospital three times a week, having various procedures and therapies.”
Both Ellie and Lucas completed their treatment and last November the pair celebrated their remission by ringing the ward bell together.
The families now arrange their routine check-ups so they can all go together and regularly meet up.
September is Children’s Cancer Awareness Month and both Jessica and Louisa have urged parents to act on the warning signs.
Louisa said: “Lucas was only two-and-a-half years old and it looked like he had just come down with a cold.
“I had just given birth to my second child Mason and I was just so exhausted so we just stayed in for a week.
“Lucas seemed like he was coming down with a severe cold so he just laid on the sofa.
“Then I realised he had bruising all over his body.
“I stripped him naked and counted 17. He had been lying down so there was no explanation for it.
“I googled it and the symptoms seemed to match leukaemia. But I was being positive and thought I was jumping the gun.
“When it was formally diagnosed I just thought ‘he’s too young’.
“It was devastating.”
Similarly Jessica noticed an unexplained rash covering Ellie’s body in 2015.
She said: “I knew it wasn’t normal so I rushed her to the GP that day.
“At first they thought it was meningitis but they did a precautionary blood test.
“Hours later we were told Ellie was being transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital cancer ward.
“When they told me I just felt numb.
“Having Louisa’s support has been a great help for me.
“I used to visit her parent’s pub with my partner but I stopped going when I gave birth to my daughter eight years ago.”
Louisa added: “We’re lucky to have found each other but for other parents going through this I would say the best thing you can do is reach out for support so they don’t feel alone.
“Take every day as it comes as they can go up as quick as they go down.
“We can’t thank the staff enough for everything they’ve done. They were just brilliant.”
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