A day to cherish for brave Abigail Cook

Abigail Cook who suffers from Batten's Disease celebrating her 10th birthday
Abigail Cook who suffers from Batten's Disease celebrating her 10th birthday
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Watching Abigail Cook blow the candles out on her 10th birthday cake was a precious moment her family feared they would never see.

The youngster has been battling the rare and terminal condition Batten Disease since the age of six.

Abigail Cook who suffers from Batten's Disease celebrating her 10th birthday

Abigail Cook who suffers from Batten's Disease celebrating her 10th birthday

When the family were given the heartbreaking diagnosis they were told Abigail may not reach double figures due to the illness that over time would lead to the Warmsworth youngster losing her sight and mobility.

Whilst undergoing gruelling treatments Abigail has suffered a bleed on the brain, a suspected stroke and the heartbreaking news that a clinical trial medics hoped would improve her condition had actually made it worse.

As a result of the complications Abigail’s parents Lindsey and Martin say she is now ‘living on borrowed time’.

Speaking about the birthday celebrations, Abigail’s mum Lindsey said: “In the run up to it we just kept saying don’t say it, don’t jinx it.

Ricky-John Lawson, of Pennine View School, Conisbrough has been saving his pocket money for a year and donated it to fellow students Abigail Cook's Wish List. Picture: Andrew Roe

Ricky-John Lawson, of Pennine View School, Conisbrough has been saving his pocket money for a year and donated it to fellow students Abigail Cook's Wish List. Picture: Andrew Roe

“It was amazing, there was a lot of laughing and a lot of crying, we’re just thankful for everyday, there were definitely moments were we were just thinking we never thought we’d see this day.

“She didn’t stop smiling from the moment she came home from school to the moment she went to sleep.

“She does go through absolute hell and you just don’t know sometimes how her body can take it but then she bounces back so quickly

“She’s so strong and so determined she can go from being down on her knees one day to waking up and saying she wants to go to school.”

Abigail’s problems began when she suffered a chronic seizure and she stopped breathing while on holiday in Turkey at the age of six.

Tests at Doncaster Royal Infirmary came back negative but Abigail soon developed ticks, a stammer, and became unable to dress and eat for herself suffering from dementia-like symptoms.

Following an MRI scan at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital which showed shadows on her brain, she was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital and was eventually diagnosed with Batten Disease.

The community has continuously rallied round for Abigail, who also has an 14-year-old brother called Oliver, contributing to a ‘wish list’ committee with fundraising events.

People all across the borough dug deep to help raise the £10,000 target for Abigail and her family to jet off to Florida.

The trip of a lifetime was top of Abigail’s ‘bucket list’.

Fundraising has helped Abigail tick a number of items off her bucket list including a trip to Lapland and creating a sensory garden at her home thanks to the generosity of residents.

And in spite of fundraising currently taking a back seat, the family say they are still hoping to raise enough cash for Abigail to complete bucket list items including getting a specially adapted bike and having a princess party in a castle.

Lindsey said: “We have been so overwhelmed at all the support from people.

“The fundraising has taken a bit of a back seat recently because we’re very aware that there are a lot of other families out there who need help too and we’re not the type of family who like to ask people for help.

“The support has been amazing though and people are still rallying round to raise money which is so humbling.”

A recent generous act by a school friend, who attends Pennine View in Conisbrough with Abigail, further re-affirmed just how much the youngster has touched the lives of those around her.

Lindsey said: “I felt a bit uneasy when Ricky’s mum said he wanted to donate his pocket money that he had been saving for a year because it was his money but she said he was determined that he wanted to do it.
“I just can’t put into words how humbling and overwhelming it is that he did this.

“I couldn’t believe it when he said he was donating £130.”

Abigail’s sight and speech are now deteriorating, she is unable to eat and relies on a wheelchair.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see, I didn’t think my heart could break in so many places but still be able to function,” said Lindsey.

Contemplating life without Abigail is too painful for Lindsey to imagine but she says it is a thought that is constantly in the back of her mind.

“You want to be able to take it away from her. You can’t put into words how it feels to know that she’s living on borrowed time.

“I don’t like to dwell on it but you could be doing something then something comes on TV or you hear a song, or hear about another child who has passed away and it snaps into your brain.

“You go to sleep thinking about it and wake up thinking about it but moments like seeing Abby’s face light up on her birthday get you through.

“Abby has been through so much but never once complained, she always has a smile on her face.”

To support Abigail’s Wish List visit http://gogetfund