January 1st brings a new start, a new chapter and new beginnings. A new year of hope and promises to make the most of the life we have been given. January 1st 2015 also marked the day in which I lost a friend. This post today isn’t going to be my usual beauty ramblings however it is a tribute. A tribute to my beautiful friend Jemma and the legacy that she leaves. I am writing this with a heavy heart and tear filled eyes, as I tell you about one of the bravest and most inspirational people I have been lucky enough to meet. This is Jemma’s story and I hope I do it justice of telling it to you.
Back in 2008, I checked in for a flight at work with an empty suitcase and a purse full of dollars, ready to jet off to Florida. I was excited about this trip as I was flying with some really good friends; Mel, Nikki and Jemma . We were so looking forward to hitting the malls, shopping til we dropped and treating ourselves to cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. I’ll never forget how Jemma kept saying that she had a bad stomach whilst we were there and how we jokingly said she was pregnant. Imagine our surprise when we had got home from the trip to hear that Jemma had been grounded as she was having a baby! I was so happy for her, and when she gave birth to baby Alfie I was overjoyed. As with the nature of the job and when life gets in the way, I kept in touch with Jemma via the medium of Facebook, following every moment of her being a mummy and watching Alfie grow. I remember when she came back to work and did her first flight back on my flight. I swear we didn’t get any work done, we just gossiped in the back galley. It was so lovely to see how happy she was, her broad Barnsley accent bursting with pride as she spoke about her gorgeous boy.
It was only about two and a half years ago when Jemma broke the devastating news to me that she had cancer. After having Alfie at the age of 22, she was called into the doctors for her first smear test aged 25. On Christmas Eve 2012, Jemma was told she had cervical cancer and the only option was to have a hysterectomy. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy worked well enough for Jemma to return to work with a positive future in sight. A swollen leg complaint led to the discovery that the cancer had returned and had spread to the lymph nodes and a tumour in the vaginal wall that unfortunately was terminal.
The entire time that Jemma was going through this, she remained so strong and fought her hardest. Undergoing intensive treatments left her weak but she still remained positive for Alfie and her husband Chris. A charity was set up for Jemma’s Journey where a target of £40,000 was set to send Jemma to Germany for an alternative treatment that hopefully would prove more effective in reducing the size of the tumour. So far a massive £50,000 has been raised, money of which helped send Jemma to Germany.
Only six weeks after the treatment, my darling friend took her last breath and took her wings as a true sky angel. She will never, ever be forgotten. Her bravery throughout her whole ordeal was unbelievable. Jemmas facebook page, Jemma’s Journey, gained over 8000 likes in a matter of weeks. Strangers took time out to donate to her cause. Raising over £50,000 is a huge achievement and I’m proud of everyone who contributed to help Jemma experience further treatment.
Jemma will always be forever in my heart. The news of her death has hit me harder than I ever thought it could do. It has floored me and I am struggling to make sense of why this dreadful disease would take my Jemma away. I ask of you one thing. Please take two minutes out of your life to fill in this petition that Jemma was fighting for. She asks for the age of smear tests to be lowered as her first smear test at 25 was too late. I have signed it, and I hope that in Jemma’s memory that you all will sign it as well.
Jemma, you are my inspiration and I am so very proud of you. Keep flying high sky angel. You do not know how much of an impact you’ve made. All my love xxx