Courtney (15) battles against all the odds

By Cody Hutchison

A BRAVE fifteen-year-old girl, Courtney Lambe, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after nearly two years of complaining of severe abdominal pain, many sleepless nights and a lot of uncertainty.

Despite multiple misdiagnoses, including gallstones, the tumour on her pancreas was finally discovered on April 10 this year when her mam noticed Courtney’s skin had turned jaundice.

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Courtney Lambe wants to make others aware that this can happen to anyone at any time

Courtney was told she would have to undergo Whipple surgery, a complex 11-hour operation most often performed to remove cancerous tumours off the head of the pancreas, on May 10, a month later.

“There was a lot of crying, we were all devastated. None of the surgeons understood how a girl her age could have pancreatic cancer,” explained Courtney’s mother, Jackie.

Irish Cancer Society research reports that the majority of pancreatic cancer cases occur in adults over the age of 60.

“It is so rare; all the surgeons were left speechless,” said Jackie.

A student at St Dominic’s College Ballyfermot, Courtney was set to take her Junior Certificate in June after her diagnosis. The courageous girl she is, she sat the exams in hospital only five days out of the intensive care unit.

Jackie said, “My daughter has been through more trauma in a short amount of time than most adults have been in a lifetime. She has been in Tallaght Hospital for three months and we are all looking forward to her coming home where she belongs.”

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Prior to the diagnosis, Courtney had been to the doctor on a number of occasions. Even eight weeks before the tumour was found the doctor was certain it was gallstones and would be further investigated.

Once diagnosed, the doctors told the family that if they had waited any longer they wouldn’t have been able to operate on her because the tumour was at its last stages and ready to spread to other organs.

Mission to raise awareness

Now it is Courtney’s mission to raise awareness that this can happen to anyone at any time as she emphasizes the importance of “listening to your body because it is not in your head” even if others believe it to be.

Her family is grateful to the community, family and friends, schools and shops that have been supportive.

“We are extremely grateful for everything everyone has done in this extremely difficult time. We hope Courtney’s story helps others to never give up without a fight because Courtney has had some fight to get where she is,” said Jackie.

“Every day Courtney is pushing herself to make progress but she still has a tough road ahead. Her positivity and courage has been an inspiration.”

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