Transplants, cancer: Years of illness but shines at formal
IT WAS only fitting that Keada, the four-legged friend who had kept her going through her darkest moments and numerous bouts of ill-health, was by her side when Jess Watkins stepped out onto the red carpet for her formal on Friday night.
After fighting her way through two liver transplants, two cases of post transplant lymphoma and associated oncology treatments, and numerous broken bones along the way because of her osteoporosis, Jess has overcome more battles in her young life than most have in a lifetime.
"(Keada's) basically helped me through a lot. She can make me happy when I'm sad and struggling, she's my little best friend," she said.
"Sometimes she just gives me a reason to keep going and to wake up in the morning and face the day."
And so there were Jess and Keada, along with good friends Kyrra Lochel and Callyda Lewis, in a car loaned by friend Chelsea Brown, at the Toowoomba Christian College formal on Friday.
She said it was a "big relief" to be finished school.
The teenager now intends to take a gap year, before studying to become a vet nurse at UQ Gatton.
Mum Sandy said the last 17 years had been "a rollercoaster ride" but that she was "incredibly proud" of her daughter on finishing school.
"Honestly, as a mum, I remember in my head I always had the thought that if I could get her to get her Ps and to graduation, it would be a miracle," she said.
"It blows my mind that she has made it this far and the medical expertise to get her this far has been just incredible.
"She's had four really good years... we're so happy. It's just an incredibly happy time for her and for us.
"She's turned out to be the most beautiful, happy, bubbly, positive child. We're very proud."