Search for cure as Lucy (5) battles aggressive cancer

Portadown grandparents Eric and Janette McCartney with Lucy (5) and little sister Sophie
Portadown grandparents Eric and Janette McCartney with Lucy (5) and little sister Sophie

Family and friends in Portadown and in the Scottish town of Kirriemuir are praying for the complete healing of Lucy Wright (5) who has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of childhood cancer.

Grandmother Janette McCartney and granddad Eric live at Levaghery Close. Her dad, Portadown-born James Wright, and mum Emma have been to Edinburgh, London and Glasgow with their brave daughter as she goes through the gruelling tests and treatment.

Lucy was diagnosed in late December 2012 with neuroblastoma, stage 4, cancer of the nerve cells. It started in her adrenal gland, but by the time of the diagnosis in Edinburgh, it had spread to her bones and bone marrow. She is on a third major stage of extensive treatment. The first was in Edinburgh Sick Children’s Hospital where Professor Hamish Wallace said she was a challenge for modern medicine.

Protocol front-line treatment was followed on a clinical trial. Lucy responded very well initially to the chemotherapy treatment, but after seven months, the cancer became resistant. She proved immune to the treatment, and is classed as having refractory – or resistant – disease, and was taken off the clinical trial. A new trial, using different drugs, was started in London’s Royal Marsden Hospital in August. However, this trial has just opened up in Glasgow’s Yorkhill Hospital – two hours from her home in Kerriemuir – and her treatment was transferred there last week.

This new trial aims to destroy the disease in her bones and bone marrow, so that she can progress to the next stage - surgery to remove the primary tumour, followed by radiotherapy, high dose chemo, stem cell transplant and immunotherapy. “She is coping initially well with the latest chemo and has been able to start school,” said Mrs McCartney.

Fund-raising is by friends and family in Northern Ireland and in Scotland. It will be kept in a trust fund, to be used solely for Lucy’s treatment in the future. She may need to travel abroad for immunotherapy, as children with neuroblastoma run out of options in the UK. If the money raised is not needed, the trustees will be donate it to the charities that have helped them.

Lucy’s dad James was born and educated in Portadown, and graduated from Dundee University – he works in the Angus county town of Forfar as a town planner. He met wife Emma, a nurse at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee, during their university days and set up home in her hometown Kerriemuir. They have a younger daughter Sophie (2).

A sell-out golf day is taking place today (Friday) organised by James’s old school friends, David Dunlop and Ryan Irwin for the cancer charity CLIC Sergeant and the Tayside charity TICKLE. The evening event, organised by James’s brother Paul, is for Lucy’s individual fund.