KING’S LYNN: Parents celebrate the life of inspirational Jess

Jessika-Mae Prior sadly lost her battle to a rare bone cancer on March 18
Jessika-Mae Prior sadly lost her battle to a rare bone cancer on March 18
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The parents of an inspirational teenager who lost her battle against a rare form of cancer have said they are celebrating her life.

Mark Prior and Sharon Cleaver have praised 18-year-old Jessika-Mae, known as Jess, for her humour, determination and positive attitude.

Jess passed away at her North Lynn home with her parents and aunt, Tracey Cleaver, on March 18.

She had fought against Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer which affects fewer than 30 children a year in the UK, since September 2011.

Her parents have taken comfort from the hundreds of cards from Jess’s many friends.

Miss Cleaver said: “It makes Mark and myself very proud to know that we have brought up a child who was well loved by so many people.

“She was very loyal to her friends and family. She would always put other people’s feelings ahead of her own.

“Jess was also very funny and had a great sense of humour.

“She was a very mature young lady and very bright.She was amazing.”

Jess was born in Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital on January 18, 1995, and went on to attend Gaywood Community Primary and Springwood High School.

The youngster enjoyed music and spending time with her family.

One of her great passions was sport.

She was a gymnast between the ages of five and eight before turning her hand to the Korean martial art Kuk Sul Won.

She achieved a black belt and won several medals, including golds, from tournaments across the country.

At the age of 11, Jess began to play football. She initially played for a Reffley team before joining the Discovery girls team in North Lynn.

She also excelled at athletics and even achieved the Springwood High School 100 metre sprint record, despite being in immense pain.

Jess first began to suffer knee pain in 2010 but it took 18 months for the problem to be diagnosed.

She was sent for an x-ray after a lump appeared on her left thigh and was then referred to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham for a biopsy, which confirmed that Jess had Ewing’s Sarcoma

Jess retained her positive attitude throughout two gruelling courses of chemotherapy and radio therapy to tackle the tumour which initially ran from her pelvis to knee.

At the start of the year, doctors thought her condition was stable and that the lump had halved in size.

Sadly, a blood test confirmed her condition had changed unexpectedly and it was quite aggressive.

Miss Cleaver said: “We want to raise awareness of Ewing’s and we were told it was a sports injury for a long time.

“I would urge other parents to make sure injuries are checked out thoroughly.”

The family is also hoping that Jess will serve as an inspiration to other teenagers.

Miss Cleaver said: “Jess had a positive attitude. The word negative was not in her vocabulary.

“She made the most of everything and I hope other young people out there will take her as an inspiration and make the most of their lives.”

Jess had also volunteered as a peer mentor at the North Lynn Discovery Centre in 2010.

Centre manager Jimmy Yallop has also paid tribute to her.

He said: “She was an energetic and bubbly girl and very popular with staff and the kids.

“We could always rely on her and she was a credit to her family. Despite the fact that she was in pain with her knee, she never let us down.”

A funeral service will be held at St Faith’s Church, Gaywood, on Wednesday, April 3, at noon.