February 2016
Stories on this and subsequent pages (by month) are taken from the postings on the Facebook Blog, 'Jessica Whelan, a fight against neuroblastoma', by Jessica's dad, Andy, and her mum Nicki. Click below for link to the Facebook site.
February 14th, 2015

Jessica was diagnosed with stage 4 high risk Neuroblastoma on September 23rd, 2015. This page has been created by her family to provide updates in her progress in this fight against cancer.

As Jessica was diagnosed some months ago now I will try and link posts from my personal page to here to show the time line of events.

Please feel free to share this page amongst your friends and family as raising awareness of this cancer and it's affect on us as a family is our aim.

Thank you.

February 15th, 2016

Jessica is back home now after finishing her final course of TVD chemotherapy. We have a couple of days at home now before going back to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital on Wednesday for a repeat of all her scans.

These scans are vitally important to us as they will show if this additional two courses of a different type of chemotherapy have managed to rid Jessica's body of the metastatic disease (secondary cancer). The primary aim for all the courses of chemotherapy is to remove all of the secondary cancer before she is able to go for surgery on the primary tumour.

The last scans Jessica had were not as we had hoped and there was still quite visible metastatic disease. We are hoping and praying that this time around we have some positive news and can plan for surgery.

Jessica will be going into hospital on Wednesday where she will have a general anaesthetic to allow a bone marrow aspirate and a trephine biopsy. Following that when she is in recovery she will be injected with a radioactive tracer in preparation for her MIBG scans.

On Thursday Jessica will again visit hospital this time for the first of two MIBG scans and also for an ultrasound of the primary tumour. Friday she will also return for what is hopefully her last visit for a week and she will have her second MIBG scan and a CT scan.

It will take up to a week before we find out the full results of all of these tests and it is then that we will find out the next plan of action. If all is as we hope then Jessica will be booked in for stem cell harvest followed by surgery on her primary tumour. If however the metastatic disease is still more than our Oncologist wants then he will remove us from the clinical trial we are currently on to allow further courses of chemotherapy.

Jessica can stay on the clinical trial and still go to surgery with metastatic disease remaining however the less disease that she goes into surgery with offers a better long term chance of surviving this cancer. It is our Oncologists call based on these results as to which avenue we take. Fingers crossed that he does not need to make this call and Jessica has cleared her body of the metastatic disease.

Absolutely love this picture (taken yesterday) Jessica decided she wanted to use her friends make-up and put some on. This is the outcome. Jessica also tried to put mascara on but I had to remind her that she hasn't got any eyelashes! Her response was "oh yes mummy, I forgot! Silly me" 
A lot of our friends and family now know what this actually is but for those of you that have never heard of it or know little of it, like ourselves when Jessica was diagnosed, the attached link is information regarding this cancer.
February 17th, 2016
A bit of a setback today as we came to RMCH (Royal Manchester Children's Hospital) for a bone marrow aspirate and trephine biopsy as well as an injection of a radioactive tracer. Unfortunately on checking Jessica's blood counts we have found that she needs a transfusion of blood and platelets. These two combined add up to nearly four hours and so we do not have time to fit everything in today. Instead now Jessica is waiting on bloods and platelets being delivered and she will also have her injection. The biopsy will have to wait until next week now which leaves us fretting over results even longer. The transfusion is a must today without delay as the counts are that low. The injection is also a must as it has been tailor made for Jessica in another country and has been imported for use now and therefore leaves only the biopsy with possibility to delay.
February 20th, 2016
Feeling a lot more like herself today! Jessica still has a fluctuating temperature, spiking again this evening so she will not be home until at least Monday night now as per protocol. Her mucositis is unfortunately worsening, the ulcers in her mouth growing and spreading. It is now to the extent that she hardly talks as it causes her excruciating pain, she cannot swallow even her saliva and so she is constantly spitting it it out. Drinks wise she has physically drunk no more than fifty millilitres in the last twenty-four hours and as such is now having dioralyte to keep her hydrated as well as now fluids through her nose tube. 

As you can see though she is hardly letting any of the above get her down and is quite happy entertaining the nurses from her isolation room.
February 22nd, 2016
Another day and still fluctuating temperatures. Her blood cultures have come back clear after the forty-eight hour period which would suggest that her temperatures are being caused by a viral infection. The doctors are going to keep monitoring her until tomorrow and if her high temperatures have not stabilised then Jessica will have an ultrasound to look for possible infection. The ultrasound is just routine procedure if the cultures are negative and the high temperatures are still persistent after a number of days.
Jessica has been moved from her temporary ward back up to ward 84 this morning and is a lot happier now as she can see her friends and she is no longer confined to an isolation room. She is however a bit lethargic at the moment and suffering from sickness caused by her mucositis which is still causing her great pain as the morphine wears off. She is currently having a platelet transfusion as this last course of chemotherapy she finished a week ago has hit her really hard. She does however still have bursts of energy and is making the most of now not being in isolation and being able to go to the playroom.

We are waiting to hear back from Dr. Penn, Jessica's Oncologist, as to what effect this will have in regards to her upcoming bone marrow aspirate and trephine biopsy as the anaesthetist may not allow a general anaesthetic if she is still spiking these high temperatures. We are praying that we can either get these temperatures down by Wednesday morning and/or still be allowed for the biopsy as the results take up to a week to receive and we are already a week delayed in having this biopsy.

24th February, 2016

Jessica has managed to go all day today without going above 38 degrees so hopefully (fingers and toes crossed), she is over the worst of whatever she had and she is on the mend.

As previously mentioned her blood cultures have come back negative of infection and today she has also had a CT scan of her chest and an ultrasound of her abdomen to see if any infection could be seen. Both of these have come back as clear and so reaffirm that it was most likely a viral infection.

Jessica was eventually allowed to have a general anaesthetic today to allow the trephine biopsy and bone marrow aspiration. Now it is just a waiting game of up to a week to hear what these and her previous scans show.

She has been in good spirits today and enjoying playing with friends on the ward, here pictured with Amy who was recently diagnosed with Leukaemia. Amy was showing off her new phone that she got for her birthday so Jessica decided to pinch it for a bit to try out some of the games.

29th February 2016
Jessica managed to get up to the stables for half an hour this evening, helping to feed the horses and spending time with her favourite, Bobby Sox. She only managed about twenty minutes or so before being too tired to carry on and wanting to go home but it was great to see her up and about for even a short time.