Atria Watford Shopping Centre, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 2UBGoogle Map
BOOK TICKETS to Atria’s ‘Love Your Selfie’ immersive pop-up event. Explore fun, interactive selfie rooms at this summer’s must-visit attraction for all ages and help raise much-needed funds for childhood cancer charity Jessica’s Arc supporting Alice’s Arc. Watford family Simon and Laura Macqueen joined forces with charity Alice’s Arc after their daughter, Jessica, 9, died from Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS). She had been ill for four months. Jessica’s Arc was launched following her death in 2019.
All proceeds of ticket sales (excluding Eventbrite 98p per booking fee) go to Alice’s Arc who has three Arc’s locally in their network including families of Jessica Macqueen, William Rutt and Freddie Carpenter who all sadly lost their battle to rhabdomyosarcoma in recent years.
Read Jessica’s Story as told by her parents Laura and Simon Macqueen
Jessica Macqueen 3rd September 2010 – 18 October 2019
Jess was diagnosed with stage 4 alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) in June 2019. She died in Great Ormond Street hospital in October 2019, just six weeks after her ninth birthday and only 4.5 months from being diagnosed.
Jess was a loving, funny, active, healthy eight year old up until her diagnosis. Jess had a strange lump on her foot which doctors scanned and diagnosed as a harmless heamangioma. A few days later she came home from school saying she had felt sick, in the days that followed Jess’ deteriorated rapidly and despite numerous trips to doctors it wasn’t until two weeks later that we received the horrendous news that Jess had cancer, which by this point had spread all around her body.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a rare type of cancer that forms in soft tissue – it most often affects children. • It accounts for 5% of childhood cancer cases each year in the UK – 60 to 70 children each year. • Currently the treatments needed to control RMS are so aggressive for children that they cause substantial side effects in the short and longer term. • When RMS spreads, treatment and recovery are more difficult. On relapse the chance of survival is between 8 and 20%.
On diagnosis Jess was immediately treated with a aggressive chemotherapy protocol. We were told before the chemotherapy started that it would have devasting long term effects on Jess’ health and physical development but there were no other choices. What we came to learn is that these chemotherapy drugs had been developed in the 1970 and 1980’s and that very little advancements had been made since this time due to a severe lack of funding and research. As Carline Dinenage said in the recent house of commons debate on Childhood Cancer “paediatric oncology research is the absolute backwater of cancer sciences. It does not have the focus, the money, the public relations or the prestige of other forms of research.” This needs to change.
While Jess was in frontline treatment the cancer unexpectantly spread to her spinal fluid and brain and she died a week later.
We have connected with Alice’s Arc, which is a children’s cancer charity set up by Sara Wakeling whose daughter Alice also died 10 days before Jess in October 2019 after a four year battle with the disease. Alice’s Arc works with a network of expert scientists and clinicians who focus on Rhabdomyosarcoma. They work in the major research institutions and leading paediatric hospitals. They include: • Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) • Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) ICR with Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust forms the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe. Great Ormond Street Hospital is the largest paediatric cancer centre in Europe.
The Arcs network was set up after Jess died and has brought together numerous families including those of local children whose goal is to find less harsh and more successful treatments.
Alice’s Arc and its network of Arcs is a children's cancer charity funding research into finding more targeted and less harsh treatments for rhabdomyosarcoma. In particular diversifying treatment options at the point of relapse and understanding the biology of the disease. Working in conjunction with major UK cancer research institutions such as the Institute of Cancer Research, Wellcome Sanger, University of Birmingham and Great Ormond Street Hospital to achieve this.
Research, research - our children need RESEARCH. It's persevering and enabling research that is the key to saving children in the future. It takes time and progress can have different meanings. Research will prevail. Research means HOPE.
BOOK TICKETS TO ‘LOVE YOUR SELFIE’ HERE AND HELP RAISE FUNDS
If you have been touched by Jessica’s story but are unable to attend the event and want to donate please visit Jessica's Arc just giving page: https://bit.ly/3OEO7fp