Brave Elizabeth from Gosport wins award after facing cancer four times

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AN INSPIRATIONAL Gosport schoolgirl who had her eye removed to save her life has been honoured in a special national awards show.

Brave 10-year-old Elizabeth Rooney won a Cancer Research UK children and young people’s star award and was one of 15 children to appear in a film about the virtual awards ceremony, after battling cancer four times.

As part of the ceremony video, which also featured famous faces including Pixie Lott and Joe Tasker, she shared the story of her journey with the disease.

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Elizabeth Rooney, from Gosport, during proton beam therapy treatment. Picture: Cancer Research UKElizabeth Rooney, from Gosport, during proton beam therapy treatment. Picture: Cancer Research UK
Elizabeth Rooney, from Gosport, during proton beam therapy treatment. Picture: Cancer Research UK

Elizabeth said: ‘I was very surprised and happy. I was diagnosed with a cancer that is hard to understand so it was really nice to receive the award for being brave.’

Giving advice to others in her position she said: ‘Be brave and keep trying to be as happy as you can be.

‘Sometimes I would try to take a book to the hospital which is my favourite hobby to keep busy and sometimes I would think about when the cancer won’t be here anymore. But the best thing is to keep trying to smile.’

Elizabeth was just 18 months old when Charlotte first spotted she had a bloodshot right eye. After a few months, the blemish cleared but a growth appeared close to her tear duct. It was so unusual, she was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital who carried out a procedure to shrink the lump.

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Charlotte said: ‘When Elizabeth went in for her next procedure, the growth had grown rather than reduced in size so this time, the doctors took a biopsy and said they would call us in a couple of days.

‘We were told she had cancer and they discovered it was so unique that it didn’t have a precise category. What she had, vaguely fitted a type of neuroendocrine tumour.’

So aged just three years old Elizabeth had an operation to remove the tumour.

Then, in 2018, further tragedy struck the family as Charlotte was diagnosed with breast cancer, while Elizabeth had a scan which showed her cancer had returned.

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Elizabeth Rooney, from Gosport, following surgery to remove her eye in April 2020. Picture: Cancer Research UKElizabeth Rooney, from Gosport, following surgery to remove her eye in April 2020. Picture: Cancer Research UK
Elizabeth Rooney, from Gosport, following surgery to remove her eye in April 2020. Picture: Cancer Research UK

Charlotte said: ‘It was horrendous but I think you just kind of get on with it. As long as you process everything you can get through it. But there was so much going on and with other children to care for too, you don’t have time.’

Charlotte underwent chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiotherapy in 2019 to remove her cancer.

During lockdown in May 2020, Elizabeth had two operations to remove the tumour and to have a skin graft on her eye socket.

Elizabeth Rooney, from Gosport, having treatment on her birthday. Picture: Cancer Research UKElizabeth Rooney, from Gosport, having treatment on her birthday. Picture: Cancer Research UK
Elizabeth Rooney, from Gosport, having treatment on her birthday. Picture: Cancer Research UK

To make sure all the cancer was gone, Elizabeth received proton beam therapy which is a type of radiation aimed directly at the cancer site.

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Charlotte added: ‘She is a true inspiration and her strength is unreal.’

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