A schoolgirl woke up with leg pain and was later diagnosed with a rare type of leukaemia.
Thirteen-year-old Abi Jacobs from, was told she had the condition after se received a call from a hospital and asked to come in for blood tests.
It all started with what her dad Adam, 42, described as “mild symptoms” in late December time but something didn’t quite add up.
He told Herts Live: “She woke up a few nights in a row with leg pain, like when you’d get cramp after doing exercise but without her having done the exercise,
“We just put it down to nothing and that sort of stopped, and then her lymph nodes started popping up in her neck. We thought that was a bit strange.”
Abi was then given antibiotics by her GP but, after a few days, more lymph nodes began appearing.
Her dad Adam later got a call from Watford General Hospital to say they needed to come in right away and re-run some previous blood tests.
He said: “They re-ran the blood test, re-did the ultrasound, re-did the chest x-rays that we hadn’t had [the results for] yet, and went through as many tests as they could really,
“We did everything and then in the early hours of the morning they said ‘You need to call your wife, she needs to come in as well because we need to talk about the results’.
“They sat down and told us that Abigail has leukaemia and the treatment would start straight away but she needed to be sent by ambulance to UCLH (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust).
“There was only one parent who could go so Lara, my wife, went and that was the last time I saw Abigail in person for three weeks. It was only after they left that we realised we wouldn’t be able to swap due to Covid.”
Since her diagnosis, Abi has been on intense chemotherapy, but that hasn’t dampened her spirit in the slightest.
Her attitude throughout has been nothing short of inspiring to both Adam and her mum Lara, 38, as well as her brother Josh, 11, and seven-year-old sister Lili.
“It was a massive shock,” said Adam, “and it was something that we had read a little bit about. We had so many questions but you don’t prepare these questions in advance.
“We had discussions about prognosis, life expectancy and the impact of chemotherapy on fertility and all sorts of other things.
“Thankfully, with this particular type of leukaemia, the prognosis is that 90 per cent of children make a full recovery from this. We’re hanging on to that.
“Abigail’s been really, really positive. She said quite near the beginning that it’s all going to be okay because most kids get through this and they’re fine, and if it does come back there’s other treatment they can do, and if that doesn’t work there’s another thing they can do, I’m probably going to be fine and, if I’m not, that’s okay too because everybody’s trying their best.
“She’s so grown up with it all, she’s very pragmatic with it. Some days she says it’s not a big deal, other days she’s lying in bed feeling sick and has headaches. On the days where she feels okay, she just wants to carry on like everyone else.”
Lymphoblastic leukaemia is a rare type of cancer, which affects white blood cells, and around 790 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK according to the NHS.
Although rare, this is the most common type of leukaemia affecting children, with around 85 per cent of the cases in kids happening in those younger than 15.
Adam added: “She has blown us away and I think we reflect off of her. She’s really positive with everything and so that helps us.
“She has her downs and that’s hard for everybody but, most of the time, she’s forward focused, looking at the future, making plans. and working through it day by day.
She is currently on delayed intensification and, when that finishes, she will need to wait for her blood levels to recover before starting long term maintenance.
“It’s less invasive and then she should be able to kind of carry on with a relatively normal life from that point,” said Adam.
An aspiring singer, Abi recently recorded a beautiful cover of Labrinth’s Jealous with family friend Dean Greenfield to raise money for the countless charities who’ve helped her so far.
Through her fundraising page, Abi’ has already raised £11,000 from donors and has even received messages from A-list celebrities such as Friends star Couretney Cox, comedian Matt Lucas, Dr Who’s Jodie Whittaker and presenter Emma Willis.
Throughout her treatment, Abi has benefited from the selfless generosity of a whole host of charities and groups, including Teenage Cancer Trust, Chai Cancer Care, the local synagogue and Camp Simcha, who are generously paying for her Uber rides to the hospital.
To donate to Abi’s fundraising page, visit gofundme.