“I GET the chance to be a mum again and not just the carer of my child.”
This was the touching sentiment made this week by the mother of a seriously-ill teenager, who has been given life-changing support by Sussex’s only children’s hospice, Chestnut Tree House.
For the past six years, 13-year-old Molly Green has been a regular visitor to the hospice, which is nestled just outside of Arundel.
The youngster, who lives with her mum Nichola and two younger sisters, Phoebe and Emily, both nine, suffers from a range of ailments, including a debilitating respiratory condition which affects her ability to swallow and results in her being frequently diagnosed with pneumonia.
But for 14 days a year she is given vital respite care, which gives her mum Nichola the chance to spend some quality time with all her children.
“I get to be her mum again,” said 46-year-old Nichola, of Barwick Close, Rustington. “I can sit with her and play with her rather than having to think about feeding and changing her.
“It also means that I can spend quality time with my other two girls. I just become their mum rather than the person that has to look after Molly. It’s just lovely.”
Brave Molly may now be a young woman but has faced plenty of hardship during her 13 years.
She has been admitted to hospital an astounding 80 times – 12 of these to intensive care.
“She has been on life-support for the intensive care visits,” added Nichola. “She was last admitted in August with multi-organ failure. She came fairly close then...”
On top of this, at the tender age of four, Molly’s father, David, died suddenly after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease, leaving her mum Nichola, without a husband, and her two baby sisters without a father.
But in spite of the challenges she has faced, Molly’s courageous determination never ceases to amaze those who know her, least of all the nurses who care for her at Chestnut Tree.
“Molly’s relationship with them has just grown and grown,” said Nichola. “She is far more chatty now and is always asking about what the nurses are up to.”
Nichola said that this confidence wouldn’t have been possibly without all the care Molly received from her family and the staff at Chestnut Tree.
Her comments come just days before an intrepid team of fundraisers from across Sussex look to jet off to China to trek the Great Wall in a bid to raise thousands of pounds for the hospice.
The Chestnut China Challenge will be kicking-off on October 10 and will see the trekkers’ adventure raising enough money to pay for a full nine days of care at the hospice – an incredible feat.
Speaking of the fundraisers’ adventure, Nicola said: “I think the people joining the trip are just amazing.
“Often it’s people who don’t have any association with the house that support it.
“Sick children are close to everyone’s heart. No-one wants to see a child suffering. When people go to Chestnut Tree House they realise it’s such a happy, positive place.
“It’s not a hospital where people are sitting waiting to die.”
Nichola knows just how important the support of a community can be to transforming lives.
It’s almost been two years to the day that her family and friends completed their own £20,000 fundraising bid for Molly.
The effort saw them raise enough money to transform the downstairs of their family home for Molly, giving her a new bedroom and bathroom as well as improved access across the rest of the house.
“It’s just given her so much more independence,” added Nicola.
Chestnut Tree House’s annual funding, on the other hand, is a far more challenging target to hit.
On average, the hospice needs to raise well over £3million a year to pay for all its services.
Speaking of the community support, Nichola added: “It’s vital to support them because the funding is desperately needed. If there was no-one out there to support the house, there simply wouldn’t be any Chestnut Tree House.
“It’s a lifeline for everyone that goes there. I often hear people say: ‘Thank God we’re here.’.”
Chestnut Tree House cares for about 300 seriously-ill children and young people with life-limiting conditions from across Sussex and parts of Hampshire.
However, there are potentially 1,000 families in Sussex alone who may need the hospice’s help.
As well as providing respite care, Chestnut Tree also offers help for the whole family, including psychological and bereavement support, end-of-life and short-break care and sibling support.
For more details about the children’s hospice and how to help it, its website.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage
2) Like our Facebook page
3) Follow us on Twitter
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
Always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.