When Charlotte Jennings was 11 years old, she received devastating news: she had acute myeloid leukemia. This kind of leukemia is a rare form of blood cancer that affects around four in every 100,000 people. She opted to cut her long, strawberry blonde hair to alleviate losing it all as she immediately began chemotherapy treatment which lasted for 18 weeks.
At the time, Charlotte was five months into her schooling at Kingsway School in Manchester and because of her chemotherapy and the sickness it brought her, she had to stay at the hospital and do her schoolwork during her downtime. But her sickness was unlike the typical kind that comes with chemotherapy. Charlotte developed a fungal infection which caused her body to be covered in a rash. She also suffered from liver damage.
Three weeks after Charlotte left Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, she returned for a bone marrow transplant. She was put in isolation for eight weeks and was confined to her bed for another six months after that. That meant that Charlotte felt even more isolated from her friends and peers.
“That meant I was absent from school for around 15 months and was only allowed back on a part-time basis,” Charlotte explained. “I still had to undergo a further nine months of treatment as the transplant was trying to reject my body which is known as graft versus host disease.
“At times I felt like all my friends had moved on because I was still not strong enough or well enough to do the things that they could do – simple things like going shopping or hanging out at each other’s houses,” she added.
While she remained optimistic and hopeful, she also became determined to help better the lives of other kids with cancer. She partnered with Kidscan and began raising money and donating her own birthday presents to the charity. But her good deeds wouldn’t go unrewarded.
Head to the next page for more on Charlotte’s brave battle…