by julie henderson
artist specialising in pets and wildlife

Julie Henderson


Pictures for children with ME / CFS

At the beginning of 2019 my daughter Rebecca fell ill, and was practically bed bound for months. When all the blood tests came back negative I started to fear that this could be ME/CFS but when I mentioned it to the paediatrician I was laughed at. “ME only affects people over 30” she said. However, we finally managed to get a diagnosis of “post viral fatigue in evolution towards CFS” and when I found a group on Facebook "Parents of children with ME/CFS", I was astounded to find out just how many children there were who suffer from this horrible, debilitating illness. The parents on the group greeted me warmly; told me “This is the most supportive club you never wanted to be a part of” and for the last year I have shared in their little joys and frequent sorrows. With time on my hands during lockdown and its aftermath, I decided to give something back to the group and try at the same time to raise awareness about this chronic illness which is so little understood. So I started the project “Pets for Kids with ME”, offering portraits of beloved pets who have been constant companions to these children. It should be noted that because of the chronic nature of the illness some of these "children" are now young adults who were diagnosed years ago.

Here you can see the portraits and read about their young owners and go to ME Research UK where donations can be made towards the chronically underfunded research.


Beth's Cat

Beth was an active 13 year old who ran long distance, loved bike rides and playing football. Then following traumatic surgery and subsequent infections her life changed overnight. Beth had abdominal pain, migraine headaches, 24/7 nausea, pains in her muscles and joints and a dreadful debilitating fatigue. Although Beth tried to force herself into school, all of her symptoms became more severe and it soon became apparent that Beth was too ill for any kind of education. Beth's M.E stayed severe for two years. At age 16, Beth was able to have online lessons but could only manage 1 x 20 min lesson a day. Beth took 5 GCSEs at home and then, with a lot of support and using a wheelchair, she went to college and studied children's play learning and development. Beth is now 20 and at University studying primary education but she still has M.E and dealing with the symptoms is a daily struggle.


Alissa's Cat

Alissa is 10. She’s been ill for two years and was diagnosed a year ago. At best she spends half days at school and the rest of the day on the sofa or in bed. At worst she doesn’t leave her room for days at a time. She had to give up dancing and choir and although she loves having friends round she is quickly exhausted. Her sister, who’s 7, says it’s like she was enchanted by a wicked fairy but hopes that now the spell is lifting. Let’s hope so Lissy!


Sasha's Cat

Sasha is 17. She was diagnosed at 13 but has had symptoms since she was about 7. She used to dance competitively and danced at home all the time, so it broke her heart when she couldn’t do it anymore. She has missed most of her education and couldn’t sit any exams. Her illness has also really affected her mental health and recently she has been in and out of hospital.

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