Sadie, John and Jessica Sheliker
The Special Care Baby Fund is very much a local charity and the money donated comes from many different sources. One thing that does seem to be a theme amongst many of our donors and fundraisers is that the Special Care Baby Unit has somehow touched their lives. I have selected just a few donations that reflect this local and personal appeal.
Born on the 16th November 2011, baby Jessica Sheliker was admitted to our Unit after spending 2 weeks at Lewisham’s Special Care baby Unit.
In December 2010, her mother Sadie had been diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma: a very rare form of cancer which appears in soft tissue. After diagnosis, Sadie started a six month course of intensive therapy and surgery. After her initial treatment, whilst attending an appointment to start a further course of treatment for another tumour, Sadie found out to her surprise that she was pregnant. Sadie and John had rather assume this couldn’t happen due to the cancer drugs she was taking.
Although this news brought them great joy. It also meant that, as a couple, they were going to have to make some tough decisions. The Royal Marsden, where Sadie was being treated, gave them their full support, knowing only Sadie and John knew the right way ahead. They decided to continue with the pregnancy, and even though she was pregnant, Sadie was able to udergo some cancer-combating treatment.
At 28 weeks of pregnancy, the cancer had returned and Sadie needed to start a more intensive drug therapy regime. To give her unborn baby a better fighting chance, despite the pain, Sadie delayed her treatment and Jessica was delivered by Caesarean section at 30 weeks.
With Baby Jessica safely born, Sadie was able to recommence treatment. The couple had to juggle their time to attend appointments and hospital stays for Sadie’s cancer with dedicating as much time as possible to the care of their premature daughter being cared for on SCBU.
Whenever Sadie and John spent time with Jessica on SCBU, no one would have guessed the future that this couple were facing, and the decision they were having to make.
Sadie always looked so young and trendy. She and John were always so positive, making the most of every moment they had with Jessica. The team on SCBU were totally taken with the cheerful environment they created around their precious daughter. They enjoyed every part of Jessica’s care, and when Sadie had to spend time away from her baby to have treatment, we all knew how much she must have missed her.
On 12th January 2012, John, Sadie and Jessica went home to start enjoying life as a family. Unfortunately, all too soon, the cancer had become more aggressive and Sadie required surgery. Thanks to her parents, aunt and close family friends, Sadie was able to recover post-surgery at home to be close to Jessica.
Being a fighter, Sadie soon regained her strength and family life continued again. After her last course of treatment, the future was looking much more positive. Although taking one day at a time, John, Sadie and Jessica were starting to enjoy family life once again.
Sadly though, as time went on, the cancer became more aggressive and after spending their first Christmas as a family, Sadie lost her fight on the 29th December 2012.
After the funeral, John contacted the Unit as he wanted to donate the money given in Sadie’s memory to the Special Care Baby Fund. It was agreed with John that a good use of this special donation would be to launch our Developmental Care Project. The project has funded developmental care training for key staff on SCBU and has helped to provide special items, outside of NHS provision, to create a nurturing and supportive environment for babies in our care.
The project has been a great success and we are continuing to raise funds to make Developmental Care one of our key markers for good practice.
We are forever thankful to the Sheliker family for their thoughtfulness in making it possible for the SCBU team to further help other premature and sick babies who require special care.
You can read more in this newsletter about the Developmental Care Project, led by Sister Tori Thurgood and Sister Jackie Ash.