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Tributes paid to ‘kind and compassionate’ Jessica Robinson, of Titchwell, who died six weeks after cancer diagnosis aged 31

The family of a 31-year-old woman who died just six weeks after discovering she had cancer has said she was “one of a kind”.

Jessica Robinson, who lived in Titchwell with her mother Annette and five-year-old daughter Lilith, was preparing for her first year as a teaching assistant at Brancaster Primary School when she started experiencing what she believed was wisdom tooth pain.

Several appointments with dentists and her GP saw her receive different diagnoses – but by the end of the six weeks of summer holiday, Jessica was “laid up in bed, in too much pain to move or eat”.

Jessica Robinson, 31, of Titchwell, died just six weeks after being diagnosed with cancer
Jessica Robinson, 31, of Titchwell, died just six weeks after being diagnosed with cancer

Another doctor’s appointment at this time ended in a trip to the hospital for a chest x-ray, which found “shadows” in her lungs.

She then had biopsies and MRIs, before being told she had cancer in her left lung, fluid around her heart and swelling of the brain.

But two days later, when she experienced severe abdominal pain and a GP visited her at home, she was sent to the hospital again, but this time with instructions to undergo an abdominal x-ray.

Jessica Robinson, 31, of Titchwell, with her young daughter
Jessica Robinson, 31, of Titchwell, with her young daughter

The scan showed that she had an “extreme amount” of fluid around her heart, with both chambers of the right side of her heart having collapsed.

She was urgently transported to the specialist heart and lung hospital Royal Papworth, near Cambridge, for a chest drain – draining 2.5 litres of fluid.

After being transferred back to Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the family received the devastating news that Jessica had stage 4 inoperable lung cancer.

Jessica’s sister Harriet Letzer said: “We were told there was a small possibility of treatment, potentially giving her up to 18 months, but if she didn’t get ‘well enough’ for treatment, it was only four to six months.

A fundraiser has been launched to support Jessica Robinson's family after her death
A fundraiser has been launched to support Jessica Robinson's family after her death

“She never got well enough for treatment, by the time we had Jessica’s second oncology appointment the cancer had spread, swallowing her entire left lung, wrapping itself around her aorta and infusing her spine.”

Treatment was no longer an option, and 45 days after her initial diagnosis, Jessica died on October 15.

Harriet told the Lynn News that her sister was “a fighter from the word go”.

Jessica Robinson with loved ones
Jessica Robinson with loved ones

“She was one of a pair of twins and sadly her twin Kate was anencephalic meaning she was stillborn,” she said.

“Jes was very small and weak when she was born, but she pulled through and became a force of strength. Jes always felt like a part of her was missing though.

“Growing up she was certainly the louder child, she didn’t hesitate to tell you what she thought, whether you asked for it or not, but that was one of the reasons we loved her – because she wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed or for the people she believed in.”

Harriet described her sister as “kind and compassionate” as opposed to “warm and fuzzy” – saying she “always wore a suit of armour around everyone”.

“For the people that got to see through that and experience the full Jessica – she was truly something special, honestly one of a kind,” she added.

“Jes loved being a mum, doing activities with Lilith, taking her to the beach or creating arty stuff at home together.

“Like all mums, she didn’t feel like she was doing a good enough job, but anybody who’s met her daughter will tell you what a beautiful, kind, intelligent little girl she is.”

Lilith has come up with the idea of dedicating a “buddy bench” to her at Brancaster Primary School – where Jessica herself attended before in her adult years becoming a lunch lady and she was due to start her first year as a teaching assistant.

A life-long family friend and one of her primary school teachers have also paid tribute to Jessica as “compassionate”, “resilient”, a “fireball of energy” and an “uncut diamond”.

A GoFundMe page set up by Harriet in Jessica’s memory last week has received more than 300 donations and so far gathered – at the time of writing – more than £12,600.

The fundraiser will help to pay for an “expensive court battle” for Harriet and Annette in the hope of winning custody of Lilith, as well as funeral costs and to support them while being evicted from their house due to the landlord wishing to sell it.

“We are completely overwhelmed by the fundraiser, I never expected it to get so many donations so quickly,” Harriet said.

“I knew Jes had touched a lot of people over the years but to see everybody offer their help is truly amazing.

“We are so thankful during this difficult time.”

Harriet also thanked the Shouldham ward team at the QEH, in particular Dr Biddy Bassam and Jack and Zoe from the physio and occupational therapy department.

“With their help, they managed to bring Jessica home to watch her daughter participate in the harvest festival, plus so, so much more,” she added.

To donate to the fundraiser, visit www.gofundme.com/f/wmkgm8-jessica-robinson.

Do you have a story for the Lynn News? Email newsdesk@lynnnews.co.uk

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