December 8 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 5, 2013
A florist who has run a business in Dereham for 27 years has reopened her shop following her second battle with a life-threatening illness.
Donna Lamb defeated the odds about eight years ago when she survived a brain tumour for which she had to undergo major surgery.
At the time, the former Northgate High School pupil had feared she might never be able to relaunch her career as a florist.
The mum-of-two, however, was able to run her business, Donna’s Flowers, from her home in Baxter Row and was determined to put the past behind her.
But tragedy struck again at the start of this year when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Mrs Lamb had been experiencing very few symptoms except for persistent indigestion before she was diagnosed with the UK’s ninth most common form of cancer, and the most deadly.
Aged just 44 at the time, when the majority of people affected by pancreatic are aged between 50 and 80, the news came as a huge shock to Mrs Lamb and her family.
“I was numb at first and I was told that my only chance of surviving was to see if I was eligible to undergo a major operation known as a Whipple procedure. I was lucky enough that they caught it early enough for me to be eligible as only 15pc of patients qualify to have the major operation,” said Mrs Lamb, who is married to John and has sons Luke, 18, and Ryan, 22, and two stepchildren Darren and Becky.
“I wanted to get through it for my family – and without my family I couldn’t have got through it.”
The 10-hour Whipple procedure on March 14 at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge saw Mrs Lamb have three quarters of her pancreas removed as well as her bile duct, gall bladder, part of her stomach and lymph glands.
After the operation, she had to spend three days in intensive care and be fed through a tube for 11 days before she was strong enough to return home two weeks later.
While she was undergoing and recovering from treatment, she had temporarily closed Donna’s Flowers.
Now, just six months later, Mrs Lamb, who trained as a florist at Isle College in Wisbech, now part of College of West Anglia, has reopened her business.
The 45-year-old, who used to run the Flower Basket, now Olivia Rose, in Norwich Street, said: “People have said I’m unlucky but I feel I’m very lucky. I’m lucky that I’ve had two very major operations and I’m still here to tell the tale, so many people wouldn’t get that opportunity.
“I would like to thank my wonderful family and friends for their support and to all my valued customers for their understanding while I have been closed.
“The care I received from the doctors at Addenbrooke’s was invaluable and I can’t thank them enough - they saved my life not just once but twice and I will be forever grateful to them.”
Mrs Lamb said she still suffers a lot of pain and will have to take digestion tablets for the rest of her life - but said that was a “small price” to pay compared to what could have happened.
She has now decided to donate 10pc of every order to Cancer Research UK and hopes to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer.
“I knew very little about pancreatic cancer before I had it. I knew it was one of the cancers and that it’s the most deadly but didn’t know what the Whipple procedure involved.
“To get pancreatic cancer under the age of 50 is pretty much unheard of. I would encourage anyone to be aware of the symptoms and to know yourself - if you feel there is something wrong, don’t ignore it and get checked out,” said Mrs Lamb.
“I feel so lucky and I take each day as it comes now and I’m trying to make the most of every day.”