"I won't let it beat me": Heart op champion Lucy Pearson faces cruel cancer blow

WATCH: Rachel Hepworth's report on Lucy's latest health battle. She spoke to Lucy at Naomi House Hospice, and to her mother Bev Pearson.

For twenty years ITV Meridian has followed the extraordinary life story of Lucy Pearson from Fordingbridge.

Born with half a heart and complex health issues, she was not expected to survive, but she defied the doctors and thrived after she was given a heart transplant at the age of six.

Lucy is woken up after her successful heart transplant

  • Watch our report from 2016 when we caught up with Lucy ten years after her heart operation

The operation gave Lucy the energy to run around her school playground for the first time ever, and do all the things her friends could do.

Lucy at her school graduation

She became an advocate for organ transplantation, graduated from school and went on to study music, art and photography at Brockenhurst College, where we caught up with her in 2016.

Since 2020 Lucy had been shielding at home because of coronavirus. All was going well, but just before Christmas last year, she was dealt a cruel and devastating blow, after collapsing at home with severe pain.

She was rushed to Southampton General Hospital with suspected pneumonia, but tests revealed she was suffering from a type of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, caused by the anti-rejection drugs she takes for her new heart.

She was treated with chemotherapy, which seemed to be working, but during the second cycle medics found the cancer was taking over again.

A ground-breaking monoclonal antibody treatment appears to be working, but it looks highly unlikely that Lucy will ever walk again.

Crucially, it also means she can't return home because the wheelchair she needs to make that practical, will take over a year on the NHS.

Friends have launched a fund-raising page to buy the £10 000 chair privately, to make her dream of being at home with her family a reality.

The shocking speed at which the cancer took over her body and caused Lucy to become paraplegic is overwhelming, but anyone who knows Lucy knows that she is a stubborn fighter and she has told Mum that “this b@#tard is not having me”! We are all so proud of the way Lucy is handling this, and trying to surround the family with love and support.

Sarah Dudley, friend and fundraiser

At the moment her only option is to stay in hospital, or receive respite care at Jack's Place, a specialist unit for teenagers and young adults at Naomi House hospice.

Lucy says all the nursing staff and doctors have been 'amazing'

In the longer term, the family will need to make extensive alterations to their home to make it suitable for wheelchair access.

Her mum Bev said "It seems so unfair. We have done all the 'why hers ?' But she's a determined young lady and she's told me 'I'm not going to let it get me mum. I'm going to beat this"

For more information on the fund raising campaign please click here