'Inspirational' Jess battles recurring brain tumours 'with a smile'

Jess and her mum Jo, photographed on holiday in Cyprus four years ago.
Jess and her mum Jo, photographed on holiday in Cyprus four years ago.
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A young woman who beat cancer twice is facing yet more surgery after numerous brain tumours returned.

Jessica Simpkin, of Rainworth, has been battling the disease since she was a little girl.

The amazing young women keeps a sense of humour as her battle continues, and supporters joined for a coffee morning and bake sale on Friday, May 27, raising over 400.

The amazing young women keeps a sense of humour as her battle continues, and supporters joined for a coffee morning and bake sale on Friday, May 27, raising over 400.

And, after countless operations and crippling chemotherapy, she is now waiting to be treated for five tumours at once.

Her family told how the amazing young woman keeps up the fight, and always with a smile on her face.

Mum Jo, aged 54, said: “I’m in awe of Jessica and how she keeps so cheerful while fighting this illness. I just think she’s amazing.”

Jessica said: “I always try to see the funny side. Sometimes it’s frustrating and upsetting, but I don’t let it beat me and I live life how it comes.”

Jess's family have lauded her amazing cheerfulness in the face of recurring tumours.

Jess's family have lauded her amazing cheerfulness in the face of recurring tumours.

Brave Jessica Simpkin was only four when she had her first brain tumour - a mudula blastoma.

When she was 19 she had another one on the top of her brain, and now she has five in total, plus numerous other benign spots across her cranium waiting to become malignant.

And as the amazing 28-year-old counts them up she starts to laugh.

“I always try to see the funny side,” says the young woman from Rainworth, who loves baking, socialising and ‘driving her mum up the wall’.

Jessica, taken just after her first brain tumour operation.

Jessica, taken just after her first brain tumour operation.

"Sometimes it’s frustrating and upsetting but I don’t let it beat me and I live life how it comes,” she added, and for one thing - she’s even named her tumours.

“I call them woodpeckers, and first of all there was mummy woodpecker and daddy woodpecker, and now they’ve had baby woodpeckers.”

But the truth is that Jessica’s journey has been far from funny. She’s been in and out of hospital all her life. She’s had strokes, epileptic seizures and a number of issues relating to circulatory problems to the brain and she recently had surgery to prevent a major stroke.

Her dad Mike, 61, said: “She had chemotherapy for a long time, but now the treatment is prone only to cause more cancers to form, say her parents.

Attendees of Jess's fundraising coffee morning helped bring up her total for children's brain tumour charity, which is now over 9,000.

Attendees of Jess's fundraising coffee morning helped bring up her total for children's brain tumour charity, which is now over 9,000.

“She can’t have surgery again because she’s on blood thinning drugs, so the only option to treat her is gamma knife therapy.

“That’s what we’re waiting for at the moment, and the doctors say even then that won’t be the end of it.”

“This is why she wants to raise money for the centre. She doesn’t want anyone to go through the same thing that she’s been through, and for some reason the government doesn’t give as much funding to brain tumour research even though it’s the biggest cancer killer in the under-40s.”

For the past year Jess has been doing what she can to support the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre at Queens Medical Centre. At a coffee morning last week she raised over £400 and she’s got a calendar of events planned over the summer.

And the family also want to raise awareness after Jess’s own tumours went un-diagnosed for months despite calls for treatment.

“When Jess fell ill the doctors thought she had gastroenteritis,” said Mike, a business development manager.

“But we knew it was something worse. She was having transient episodes, she couldn’t walk.

“She would talk and her voice would sound like a Darlek, and she would just start screaming and holding her hands to her head uncontrollably, and then suddenly she’d be fine. It took months for her to be diagnosed, and this is one of the biggest things that needs to change to promote earlier diagnosis.”

Earlier diagnosis could have changed things for Jess; her family are convinced the chemo only made things worse, and it was hard for them to hear that this latest treatment won’t be the last battle.

“But we live each day as it comes, and we have lot of laughter and love, added her mum Jo.

“I just think she’s amazing. I’m in awe of Jessica of how she keeps so cheerful while fighting this illness.”

For more information visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jessica-Simpkin.