The community is rallying behind a Chesterfield schoolgirl who bravely continues to battle the after-effects of a brain tumour with a sponsored walk at Chatsworth House.
Five-year-old Lucy Needham was diagnosed with a rare, malignant brain tumour at just 10 months old in August 2014.
The youngster subsequently underwent emergency brain surgery and several life-saving rounds of chemotherapy and stem cell treatment at Sheffield Children’s Hospital as she fought for life.
Lucy and many of her family and friends are set to take on a sponsored walk around the Derbyshire stately home to say thank you for the care she received.
In July 2014, over the course of just a few weeks, Lucy began vomiting and became more lethargic, particularly in the morning.
A milk allergy was initially suspected to be the cause following a visit to Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
Mum Tracey Evison, 39, said: “They eventually did an ultrasound and discovered enlarged ventricles on her brain and they contacted Sheffield Children’s Hospital immediately.
“We were transferred to the hospital and a CT scan then revealed the tumour. Our world just came crashing down. She was so young and the prognosis was bleak.”
The following day, Lucy underwent emergency surgery which lasted for nine hours, described by her Mum as ‘the longest, most tortuous day of our lives’.
She began the first of several rounds of chemotherapy as they spent the next five months in the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Tracey said: “Lucy was very poorly during treatment, she gave us a scare more than once.
"But she received the most outstanding care at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and we will be eternally grateful for that."
While Lucy won her first battle, she has continued to fight many more since. She lost her ability to swallow and is tube fed via a gastrostomy, while damage to her lungs also makes her prone to recurring chest infections and bouts of pneumonia.
Tracey soon devoted any extra energy into helping the hospital which saved her daughter’s life.
“From very early on, fundraising became a focus for me and helped me to deal with a lot of what was going on," she said.
"We have raised money for The Children’s Hospital Charity before as it’s a cause very close to our hearts.
“When I heard The Children’s Hospital Charity were fundraising for a new Cancer Ward, I was absolutely delighted.
"The care from the staff is outstanding and it would be so nice to help provide them with the facilities they deserve.
“Families on the ward spend a lot of time there and it needs to be a home from home as much as possible.
"A comfortable bed would have been a godsend, anything to try and make it easier for patients and families will be certainly worthwhile.”
The family are next due to take on the charity's brand-new event, a sponsored walk around the Chatsworth Estate on Sunday June 23, with the option of 3km or 10km routes.
The walk spans Chatsworth House, Lodge hill and the medieval Stand Woods, before passing the Hunting Tower, the Swiss lake and historic Aqueduct.
Over 35 of Lucy’s family and friends from Deer Park Primary School, Wingerworth, will be taking on the walk with her.
“We’re really looking forward to doing the Chatsworth Walk, it will be one of the first we’ve done together," said Tracey.
"It may be that Lucy needs her wheelchair to complete the walk, but one way or another we will all be crossing the finish line together for Sheffield Children’s Hospital.”
Rachael Thomas, Community Fundraising Officer at The Children’s Hospital Charity added: “It’s so heartwarming to hear how thankful Lucy, her family and friends are for the care she received at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“We can’t wait to welcome them all to Chatsworth in June as we launch this exciting new event to build a better future for generations to come.”
To sign up to visit: www.tchc.org.uk/events