Derry woman diagnosed with Leukaemia weeks after wedding

Michael and Jessica Clarke pictured on their wedding day three months ago (pic by Stephen Latimer)
Michael and Jessica Clarke pictured on their wedding day three months ago (pic by Stephen Latimer)

A Derry woman who was diagnosed with Leukaemia just weeks after her dream wedding and honeymoon, is to host a tea party for charity.

Jessica and Michael Clarke got married three months ago, had an amazing honeymoon in Mauritius and quickly settled into married life.

Five weeks later, the couple wer thrilled to find out they were expecting their first child.

However, their elation turned to devastation after Jessia had her first appointment with the midwife.

Michael told the ‘Journal’ that the midwife noticed his wife, who was exhausted and unable to shake off a chest infection, was very pale.

“The midwife did an extra blood test and hours later we got a phone call to say that Jessica’s iron was very low and she needed to to hospital.

“We saw a consultant haematologist who informed us there was something abnormal in the cells.”

Further tests confirmed that Jessica had Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and she was referred to the City Hospital in Belfast.

Michael said the diagnosis was ‘devastating.’

“We were told we needed to put Jessica first as both wouldn’t survive. This was the hardest decision ever.”

Jessica started Chemotherapy almost immediately and her consultant was confident this will ‘do it’s job.’

“She will have four cycyles of chemo, each one lasting around six weeks and she has just finished her first cycle. She is battling through it like the warrior she is,” Michael added.

The couple decided to hold a charity event to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI in recognition of the care Jessica has received over the last few weeks, something which they will be ‘forever grateful’ for.

“The medical staff have been absolutely amazing from the start and have gone above and beyond. There have been so many positives so far.

“We also hope to raise money for research into AML so that nobody else has to go through this.”

“Had it not have been for the knowledge and expertise of the doctors, nurses and scientists at both Altnagelvin and Belfast City Hospitals we could have been looking at a very different story,” Michael maintained.

The couple admit that this may not have been the start to married life they were expecting but “if we can get through this, we can get through anything,” he concluded.

The ‘Big Red Tea Party’ takes place at Gwyn’s Cafe and Pavillion, Brooke Park at 3pm on Monday, September 17. Everyone is welcome to enjoy tea, cakes and raffles.

Alternatively you can donate at