Family’s cancer battles inspire Broadstairs mum to publish children’s book Parker’s Pockets

Gemma has published children's tale Parker's Pockets

A Broadstairs mum-of-four who overcame cancer and then helped her son face his own fight against the disease has published a children’s book aimed at helping the siblings of youngsters with serious illnesses.

Parker’s Pockets was written by Gemma Huckstep during 2020 while son Ellis, then 12, was undergoing chemo for rare bone cancer osteosarcoma.

The Dane Court student also underwent an operation where 20cm of thigh bone, shin and knee joint were removed and replaced with a metal rod.

Talking to The Isle of Thanet News at the time Gemma said Ellis was: “brave in ways I can’t fathom. I am in awe of him. Whatever he gets thrown at him, he gets up, straightens his cap and carries on- like a boss.”

Gemma and Ellis when the teen was undergoing treatment

Just months later the inspirational teen, who overcame covid as well as bone cancer, took on a 25km walk in London with his family to raise funds for Clic Sargent– a charity that supports young people and families facing cancer.

School family liaison officer Gemma had her own experience of the disease when in 2013 she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent a biopsy, two operations, radioactive iodine therapy. She then wrote a blog to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and wellbeing during difficult times,

Gemma spent almost a year at hospital with her son while her three girls remained at home and this was the prompt for Parker’s Pockets.

She said: “Parker’s Pockets is a story for children of all ages whose sibling has been diagnosed with an illness such as cancer. Parents are often separated from their children for long periods of time, meaning life as they knew it changes.

“Siblings are inadvertently less focused upon by parents during this time. It highlights the importance of talking about worries and feelings and reinforces that how they are feeling is normal. It encourages good communication, resilience and positive relationships.”

Gemma’s daughter enjoying the book

Parker’s Pockets, which Gemma has dedicated to her children, has been almost a year in the publication process and became available to buy yesterday (January 27).

Copies can be found at Waterstones at

On Amazon and direct from Pegasus Publishers at


  1. Is that top picture really Gemma? She looks different there (including the colour of her eyes!).

    I knew her in passing years ago thanks to my friendship with her sister. A lovely family who’ve been through a lot. Hope the book is a big success!

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