TRIBUTES have been pouring in this week for Florence Jackson, the two year old from Speldhurst whose battle against cancer touched the hearts of thousands around the world. On Saturday she lost that fight.
Flo, as she was known, died after being treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton for some time. She had been diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in December 2015.
Parents Carolyn and Rodney Jackson are inviting people to support a Wave Of Light For Flo in memory of their daughter.
They posted on Facebook: “At 7pm this Saturday February 18 light a little red candle for Flo, take a picture and post across social media tagging the photo #WaveOfLight for Flo… to let her know there will always be a light shining for her amongst us all.”
The family’s local pub, the George & Dragon in Speldhurst, will also hold a candle-lighting service this Saturday from 6.30pm, and General Manager Lucy Shilling is encouraging people to go along and write down their thoughts.
“The Jacksons are a lovely family, they come in here quite often, and Florence was always smiling, you know, despite everything that was happening,” said Ms Shilling.
The family launched an online campaign to raise money for potentially life-saving treatment in America after doctors in this country admitted there was nothing more they could do.
The target for Flo’s Fight was to raise £250,000. That happened in just 11 days and the money kept rolling in, hitting nearly £300,000. Almost 10,000 people made donations.
Flo and her family, including sister Charlotte, aged five, were due to fly to New York shortly for the start of the new treatment.
However, a complication in the last couple of weeks meant doctors were unable to administer chemotherapy and the tumour on her liver grew.
On Saturday her father Rodney (42) posted the news on Facebook: “Florence sadly lost her fight with cancer at 1am this morning, she was such a brave beautiful girl who fought so hard unfortunately neuroblastoma has won she has left a huge hole in our hearts that will never be filled, but at least she is at peace and the cancer is no longer killing her RIP Flo Flo 10.07.14 – 11.02.17 R, C and C xxx”
Florence had undergone more than 20 rounds of chemotherapy as well as major surgery, a stem cell transplant and five weeks of radiotherapy, which had shrunk the mass by 80 per cent at first, but it began to regrow.
Her mum Carolyn (47) posted to the hundreds of people who paid tribute to her daughter:
“Thank you for all your kind messages.
“Our first night without our gorgeous Florence, Charlotte wanted to sleep in Flo Flo’s room last night which was lovely.
“Florence touched the hearts of so many people which is beautiful. Even the angels were crying in the sky as it snowed.”
Tributes included one from Nurse Fee: “Oh beautiful Flo! It was a joy to meet you and your family. Rest in peace poppet love.”
Florence Jackson aged two, from Speldhurst… an inspirational story
SELDOM has someone so young touched the hearts and captured the imaginations of so many people around the world. Florence Jackson was a remarkable little girl from a quite remarkable family.
She was diagnosed in December 2015 with a particularly nasty form of cancer and endured 20 rounds of chemotherapy, major surgery and five weeks of radiotherapy.
Initially, it seemed she was getting better. But, tragically, a tumour that had to be left behind after the operations grew, and Flo’s mum and dad, Carolyn and Rodney, were told it was too dangerous to remove. It was tangled in her blood vessels.
But they were not prepared to give up hope, and found a New York doctor who has performed similar successful operations on tumours in children. The only problem was the fact it would all cost around £250,000.
At the time, Carolyn said: “We owe it to Florence to fight on, just as she is bravely doing – but we have to act fast.”
So they did. They launched an online crowdfunding campaign asking individuals to donate.
Within 11 days they had raised the £250,000, and the money kept rolling in – reaching the £300,000 mark.
The family, including Carolyn and Rodney’s other daughter, Charlotte, aged five, were due to fly to America to begin Flo’s treatment when complications set in, and at the weekend Florence lost her fight for life.
Hundreds of people have gone online to pay tribute to a child who her father called ‘a brave beautiful girl who fought so hard.’
Of course, it’s a tragedy. A terribly sad tale of a toddler who fought and lost.
But it’s also a story about a little girl who kept on smiling, a little girl who inspired others, a family that refused to give up hope, and nearly 10,000 strangers who sent money to try and help out.
Those donations ranged from a couple of pounds to £45,000.
Such real-life events, in these days of Brexit wars and Trump tantrums, are what we should measure ourselves and our society against.
Stories about characters such as Florence Jackson aged two from Speldhurst are both humbling and inspirational.
Richard Moore, Editorial Director