A petite schoolgirl has made a ‘miracle’ recovery after surgeons removed a tumour from her chest – the size of a RUGBY BALL.
Brave Lucy Betts, 12, could barely breath as the huge tumour crushed her left lung ”like a crisp packet” against her heart.
Doctors initially treated Lucy for asthma until an X-ray and CT scan revealed a cancerous mass in her chest the shape and size of a rugby ball.
She was diagnosed with Ganglioneuroblastoma – an incredibly rare cancer in children which attacks the nerve tissue.
The cancer effects around just one in 10,000 children in Britain every year.
The tumour was so large surgeons had to remove two ribs on her left side and peel back her entire chest cavity to get at the 3lb growth.
A team of surgeons at East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, spent six hours removing the tumour on March 23.
Lucy’s mum Carmen, 38, said: ”The tumour was absolutely enormous. It was literally the size of a human head and looked like a rugby ball.
”Because it was so close to her heart and major arteries she went to the heart specialists to have it removed.
”We were told that she would have died if she had not had the surgery.
”Lucy is rather slight but the tumour didn’t protrude through her skin because it was so deep inside her lung.”
Lucy, from Thurmaston, Leicester, started suffering breathing problems last Autumn.
Doctors believed it was asthma and prescribed her with an inhaler but her condition deteriorated. An X-ray and CT scan then confirmed the cancer.
Mum Carmen, who is married to HGV lorry driver Ian, 48, have four other children, Jake, 16, four-and-a-half-year-old Rosie, three-year-old Molly and 11-month-old daughter Evie.
Carmen said: ”The doctors told us that the tumour was growing larger.
”It was so big it was crushing Lucy’s lung against her heart like a crisp packet which left her feeling breathless all the time.
”It’s a miracle they managed to remove it in one go. I’m so grateful to the medical staff.”
Agonisingly, surgeons also discovered a second four inch tumour in Lucy’s spine but are unable to operate until her body grows.
Carmen added: ”The second tumour is very close to her spinal cord and removing it could mean she loses the use of her legs.
”It is a very worrying time but we’re staying positive and Lucy is a real trooper and just wants to get on with life.
”She desperately wants to be a paramedic when she gets older and is already in the St John’s Ambulance.
”Surgeons will operate on her at the beginning of next year to get the other tumour and hopefully she will be clear of it after that.”
Lucy, now 13, and her family have raised £672 for the Children and Young Person’s Cancer Unity at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Tiny Lucy, who stands just 4ft 9ins tall and weighs seven stone, said: ”I just want to say thank you to the doctors who operated on me.
”I want to get on with my life and do normal things. I want to be a paramedic when I’m older so I can help other people.”
Today Lucy, alongside her family, presented the cheque to staff at the hospital.