My Mum and Dad have written this next bit!
Our wee Jenny Cook has had a lot to endure in her ten years – but she has done it all with determination, dignity and a beautiful smile!
Jenny has Ulcerative Colitis. Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is a disease of the large intestine. It causes inflammation and ulcers to develop on the inside lining of the gut. It caused Jenny to have bloody diarrhea up to twenty times a day, cramp pains in abdomen, fever, tiredness, feeling sick, weight loss, and anaemia.
Jenny was often very unwell and then in 2007, just after her fourth birthday, she picked up a simple virus which completely floored her as her body could not cope with it and she ended up as an emergency admission in Yorkhill Children’s Hospital where she experienced the first of her many long stays. Jenny was very ill – she weighed just over 1 stone (less than her 1 year old brother) and required an urgent blood transfusion as she was so anaemic.
For two years, doctors battled to control Jenny’s illness with medication – many of which carried risks and had nasty side effects and it was very hard on her as she was in and out of Yorkhill Children’s Hospital for weeks at a time. She is always such a brave wee girl who did her best to carry on as normal taking approx 15 medicines per day during the worst flare ups. She would have to get up an hour earlier so she could take them and settle her tummy before she went to school.
Due to the severity of Jenny’s illness, unfortunately the medication was no longer working. The only choice left was for Jenny to have surgery to remove her large bowel. An appointment was made to meet with Consultant Paediatric Surgeon Mr Graham Haddock. Jenny and ourselves although completely terrified instantly felt everything would be fine as long as we had Mr Haddock looking after us! To this day Jenny still has a photograph of herself and Mr Haddock or as he is now known as “Fishy Spice” beside her bed. So at just six years of age Jenny underwent surgery and her diseased large bowel was removed. The operation lasted over four hours. Having this operation would mean that for the next year Jenny would be learning to adjust to life with a colostomy bag.
In 2010 Jenny had two another operations – the first in January where she had a j-pouch created from her small bowel. The second three months later where the ileostomy is removed and the j-pouch is connected. The operations went well and Jenny’s colostomy bag was able to be removed.
During all of the hospital stays and from very early on, Jenny’s experiences prompted her to start fundraising for Yorkhill Children’s Foundation and she persuaded her family, teachers and school friends at Carmunnock Primary and her dad’s business colleagues to help out. We met with Kirsten and Abigail who work for the Foundation and Jenny at age five organised her first charity event! A cheese and wine night at her school. It raised an amazing £5,000! The week before Jenny’s UC was playing up and she ended up in hospital. She got out a few hours before the cheese and wine night started but was so determined not to let anyone down and although very nervous and still not well she attended the night and gave what was to be her first of many public speeches!
In 2008 we met Derek McEwan who set up the Catherine McEwan Foundation in memory of his Mum who sadly passed away after suffering from Crohns Disease. From their own fundraising, the Foundation took over the Glasgow Science Centre for a family day which allowed children from Yorkhill and their families to attend a fun day. This was an invaluable day for us as we got the meet other families in the same situation. Since then we have attended many other fantastic events funded by the Catherine McEwan Foundation and many of our family and friends attend and support the Foundation’s annual Red Hot Ball as well as bungee jumps and Sportsman’s dinners.
When Derek first met Jenny, he commented on her positive cheery outlook and when he became aware of her fundraising work he nominated her for a Little Hero Award in the Daily Record’s annual awards ceremony. Jenny won not only the award but also the hearts of everyone who met her including, Ally McCoist, Scott Brown, Sharleen Spiteri and design duo Colin and Justin to name a few!
Over the past five years Jenny and ourselves have become good friends with Derek and his wife Julie. Jenny thinks the world of Derek and is determined to raise as much money and awareness as she can for The Catherine McEwan Foundation.
Jenny wanted to set up this web site to raise awareness of Crohns and Colitis in children and also to help boost her fundraising efforts.
Tea Jenny is Jenny’s own idea – a ladies only afternoon tea and it is now an annual event which has really grown in size and is a great afternoon. Every penny raised goes straight to the Catherine McEwan Foundation.
To date Jenny has raised over £70,000 for Yorkhill and The Catherine McEwan Foundation. Her goal for 2013 was to reach the target she set herself of £25,000 and she achieved this! Jenny’s target of £50,000 by the end of 2014 was smashed and her 2015 target is £100,000
Jenny has been through so much but you would never know it. She is incredibly resilient, caring and so enthusiastic about helping others. Miss Jenny Cook…. Mum, Dad, Family and Friends are so very proud of how brave you have been and your never ending selfless attitude to raise money, awareness and help other children that have Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns.