A renowned cartoonist sketched a special drawing of Chester’s Erin Cross after she helped him ‘make sense of life’.
Neil Kerber was running a cartoon workshop on the oncology ward at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital last week and was immediately struck by the ‘infectious optimism’ that greeted him when he met six-year-old Erin who is still recovering from last year’s lifesaving bone marrow transplant.
In his blog, Neil, whose cartoons are regularly featured in national publications, devoted a special drawing and blog post to Erin, who has battled acute lymphoblastic leukaemia since the age of two, saying she was the ‘happiest, most confident, most enthusiastic, most inspiring little girl I have ever met’.
“I met some of these brave children and the kids and I chatted, drew some silly doodles and had a bit of a laugh while I spoke with their parents over their heads,” wrote Neil about his first thoughts on visiting the ward. “I quickly realised that this was going to be okay, possibly even fun. And then I met Erin.
“Erin came bounding up to me and informed me with the confidence of a high court barrister that we were going to follow her strict instructions and that it was going to be fantastic. She spoke with infectious optimism and happiness and set us tasks.
“Erin beamed with absolute confidence, she assured me our drawings would be a fun event. And she was right. We had enormous fun drawing silly little pictures. Erin is unaffected by the silly unimportant minor materialistic nonsense that consumes us.
“In fact most children are like Erin. She made me think so much about myself. We spend our lives worrying about such unimportant things. We’re living in unstable times, the news is filled with sadness and the world we live in can feel like a scary place. But this is our world and we have to live here. We get very short lives and we tend to fill them with so much that is unimportant,” he said.
"I was invited to teach, but it was me who was taught"
“I was invited to teach something to children like Erin. But it was me who was taught. I learned so much from this amazing little girl.”
Erin, from Upton, has been doing well since undergoing the bone marrow treatment in December, and after a rollercoaster year which saw the public rally together to raise the £150,000 needed for her to receive specialist treatment in the USA, she is slowly making progress.
Her mum Sarah told The Chronicle: “Erin is doing really well at the moment; her donor cells dropped which is a bit of a worry but she is in the middle of having donor cell top ups, which will hopefully bring them back up to 100%.
“Other than that she is full of life and energy and we are even looking at getting her into school a couple of times before the end of term. We’re slowly trying to get everything back to normal!”
Sarah described Neil’s blog about Erin as ‘extremely heartwarming’.
“It really puts life back into perspective,” she said. “It describes the day that Neil volunteered to run a cartoon workshop at Manchester Children’s Hospital. The bit where it says '..........and then I met Erin', really cracks me up!”