Lauren's mother Marina shares her story
I wasn’t at all worried and kids have aches and pains, she was only 15. In the September after the summer school holidays the pain in the leg became worse and Lauren started to limp and asked for a note saying that she couldn’t do aerobics.
I made her an appointment to see the GP. Lauren loved her aerobics. It was at this time she started to take pain killers, very unusual for her, the pain was getting worse.
We as a family were very lucky. Lauren had an x-ray immediately and that is when our lives and her life changed. MRI bone CT scans and biopsies all followed very quickly. Six months chemo in our local hospital, limb-saving surgery in the middle of this chemo and a thoracotomy in April 2002, followed by another admission. Lauren's heart was affected by the chemo and she had to have fluid drained from her lung.
Summer saw Lauren becoming stronger, although sadly her artificial knee joint never worked properly and Lauren had to always use crutches. That July her leg was straightened but not successfully. Lauren enjoyed the summer and started back to school to continue her GCSE's after a year's break.
In the November we enjoyed a holiday to Norway to see the Orcas and the fjords and it was a dream come true. At the end of the month the pain returned to the knee and following an ultrasound and biopsy the cancer had returned, that was it, she knew that the only chance was to have an above-the-knee amputation. This news was just before Christmas. Lauren coped in her usual matter-of-fact way and kept her leg for Christmas. In January 2003 Lauren underwent her amputation and a CT scan in February showed metastases in both lungs. Five months chemotherapy commenced again, this time the majority of it being in Bristol, 184 miles away from home, family and friends. A further thoracotomy in April and another in June followed. The chemotherapy ended in August.
Lauren looked so fit and well. The September CT scan showed further metastases in the lung and Lauren underwent her fourth thoracotomy in October 2003. By this stage of her illness she was well used to the anaesthetist and thoracic surgeon and always remained realistic and optimistic. Ten days following surgery Lauren met Beyonce before seeing her in concert and she dedicated the song 'survivor' to her. It was a great night! Music was one of her loves. Christmas was her best since 2000, however a CT scan in January showed further metastases but this time an operation was not an option that could be considered due to the close proximity of major blood vessels. Lauren never asked too much. That was her way of dealing with it, she just got on with life, as it made it so much easier for me. I was convinced this was at the back of her mind, she was always protecting me. Radiotherapy commenced and Lauren was told that she may have surgery once the tumour had shrunk a little and the swelling had subsided. This still gave her hope. Five further radiotherapy treatments to the lung took place in May.
Lauren still had quality of life although she still had to use her wheelchair when going out. The exertion of using her crutches made her breathless. Visits to stay with her cousin in Birmingham, clothes shopping in the new Bull-ring, watching seals at Godreavy, days out at the marine aquarium and a trip on a speed boat watching marine life were all things that she packed into the last four months of her life. Lauren always looked amazing and never wanted anyone to know too much about her illness. She wanted to be seen as normal.
As her illness progressed she gradually became weaker and tired and enjoyed time watching TV, listening to music and sitting by her pond in the garden. I have a lovely memory of her sitting in her sun chair listening to music, eating plums and slapping on the sun tan lotion, dressed in a very skimpy quicksilver bikini. This was three days before she died. Lauren went into a deep sleep with all of her family around her and passed away on Wednesday 16th June 2004, aged eighteen and a half.
Her strength, courage, compassion and love of life will never be forgotten. She is in our hearts forever until we meet again.