Bucket list dreams come true for North Walsham schoolgirl with rare form of blood cancer
PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 March 2016 | UPDATED: 09:16 12 March 2016
Archant Norfolk 2016
Like most 12-year-olds, Jorja Smith dreams of doing and seeing exciting things.
But, unlike others who expect many decades in which to achieve their ambitions, what the future holds for her is uncertain.
For the North Walsham schoolgirl has a rare form of blood cancer – and has distilled her dreams into a bucket list of things to achieve.
The youngster from Harmer Close is one of around 15 children a year to be diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), which normally only affects those aged over 65.
She compiled the wish-list with her family after being given the devastating news two years ago. It includes a dream trip to London, whale watching in Scotland and ice-skating in New York. Jorja’s older sister Jasmin, 18, has launched an online fundraising page to help make her sister’s dreams come true.
Jasmin said: “It is so hard to watch someone so young go through this.
“Due to this being very rare in children, how long she has is unknown so we are wanting to make the most of it and getting as much ticked off her bucket list as possible.”
She added: “I’m trying to raise money to take my sister out for the day in London. It’s on her bucket list to go to Madame Tussauds, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and she wants to go shopping. When she first lost her hair, I shaved mine too, I raised money for the Sick Children’s Trust as they helped us out a lot. I also shaved it because at 10 that must be so horrible as you start to get self-conscious.”
Jorja has already had a party on the beach and visited Scotland and Ireland. Within a week of the fundraising page going live, it has raised £710.
Jorja’s mum, Leeann, 36, said: “When I first saw the donations I was very tearful and, to be honest, I am shocked and numb. It means so much and you don’t realise how nice and caring people are.”
Jorja has endured several rounds of chemotherapy and is now taking part in a drug trial after they proved unsuccessful. If the drug trial fails to work, Jorja’s next step will be a bone marrow transplant from her sister, Megan, 14, who is a 100pc match.
To help her through her treatment, Jorja was given a long string of beads from the charity Beads of Courage. Each one represents a certain stage of her treatment – white represents chemotherapy and black is for when a needle has broken the skin – and creates an individual string.
Jorja, a pupil at North Walsham High School, said: “I can’t change it so I just get on with it. I want to thank everyone for raising the money and allowing me a trip to London.”
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/nys44k9w