Brave Holly Barker, 19, is fighting a rare liver cancer called Fibrolamellar and was featured in the Chronicle in April when her family were raising funds for an operation in Chicago.
However, they recently received the devastating news that Holly’s cancer is terminal, and as if that wasn’t enough, the courageous teenager has also had to fight off sepsis.
Determined to reach out, Sandy Secondary School has launched a campaign called ‘A Smile for Holly’ and is asking the community to send them poems, cards, messages, pictures and gifts to be delivered to Holly.
Assistant principal, Tracey Hinson, said: “Holly is a very special girl and we want to try to give something back and put a smile on her face.
“She is an ex-student who left three years ago. She was really helpful, really positive, really, really wanted to get involved with things, and wanted to be part of the school.
“She was very personable, very kind and interested in others. She was a people person and always smiling.
“She’s such a lovely, lovely person and it’s just not fair.”
Holly, who lives in Tempsford, had already overcome many obstacles in her life before she developed cancer, including vision problems, mild learning difficulties, and an Aspergers and ADHD diagnosis. She also lost her father in 2016.
Speaking earlier this year, Holly’s Mum, Hayley said: “I felt Holly had been dealt her cards, but there were further battles for her to fight.”
Holly received her diagnosis after Christmas, with Fibrolamellar usually occuring in adolescents and young adults who have no history of liver disease.
The family were pinning their hopes on a £250,000 operation in America, led by specialists in the field.
However, with Holly now too poorly, the money raised will be going towards research into Fibrolamellar.
Hayley told the Chronicle: “As a family we are trying to spend as much time with Holly as possible.
“We are incredibly grateful to all the people who donated towards Holly’s treatment, but unfortunately we were not able to raise enough money in time plus we were also up against Covid-19 restrictions.
“I want to thank Sandy Upper School for their campaign ‘A Smile for Holly’.
“She will feel totally lifted by this gesture.
“During Holly’s time at Sandy, the whole team were always extremely sensitive towards Holly’s other needs and I will always be grateful for the time, care and attention they gave her.
“I would also like to thank Sarah Wilmshurst, Lisa Pointing and the Shinns. These guys all organised events to help raise awareness and money for Holly’s treatment.
“Thank you to Claire Parsons for organising gifts for us to make more memories and also to those who bought the gifts. It was devastating news to receive when the oncology doctor told us that the treatment was not successful and that the cancer is too aggressive for further treatment, plus the sepsis rendered her too weak.
“She did almost die from the sepsis but she fought hard with both teams at Bedford Hospital and Addenbrookes.
“Thank you to Lauren and the team on C9 at Addenbrookes and thank you to Jackie and her team on Godber at Bedford, and Caroline, the specialist nurse.”
If you would like to support the ‘A Smile for Holly’ campaign then cards, poems, gifts and pictures can be posted to Sandy Secondary School, Engayne Avenue, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 1BL.
You can also email messages to the school via: parentcon [email protected], or drop items off in its outer foyer.
Karen Hayward, Executive Principal, said: “Please help us to put that smile back on Holly’s face by knowing we are all there for her and she is in our thoughts, at this difficult time.”