Norfolk dad reveals hidden loving tribute to his four-year old daughter for Father’s Day as she recovers from two year cancer battle
Aaron Lambert, got a tattoo on the back of his head to match his daughter’s brain surgery scar after a life-saving operation. The 36-year-old self-employed decorator is sharing his story to raise awareness and back a Cancer Research UK’s campaign for more research to help save more lives, as the charity fights back from the impact of the pandemic.
The youngest of four children, Esmé was just two-years old, when she was diagnosed with a rare high-grade form of ependymoma – a brain tumour near the spinal cord. Now aged four and, after completing 19 months of chemotherapy, Esmé’s parents Aaron and Wendy (34) have been told their brave daughter’s latest scans are clear of cancer. The Lamberts from, Swaffham, are grateful for Esmé’s treatment and say if it hadn’t been for research their daughter might not have had such a positive outcome. Esme’s mother, Wendy, said: “ We finally get to celebrate some good news after two years of desperately low and dark times. I remember when we were first told Esmé had a brain tumour our worlds fell apart. Aaron collapsed into his brother’s arms in shock and we were both sobbing uncontrollably. “It was so frightening to hear that our little girl had a large mass at the back of her brain. To hear someone say brain tumour, brain surgery -she was only one and I was just thinking please don’t die. We were in shock but I did manage to somehow ask how big the tumour was and if they were going to take it out?” The distraught parents were told their daughter needed surgery. “It was either have surgery or she would die, we had no choice,” added Wendy.
After an eight-hour operation to remove the tumour Esmé was left with a three inch scar on the back of her neck. To show his support Aaron decided to get a tattoo to match his daughter’s scar. The tattoo took nearly three hours to complete but Aaron said it was worth it as a lasting reminder of their journey together. Aaron added: “I hunted around for someone who specialises in realism as it was important to me that the tattoo looked just like Esmé’s scar. I wanted it done because I felt whatever happens to her also happens to me. I wanted us to be matching and for her not to feel she was the odd one out in any way. Our journeys were so entwined and I wanted her to know that daddy is proud of her and supporting her every step of the way.” Aaron and his wife Wendy are supporting Cancer Research UK’s new campaign to fund more research which features the rallying call to arms: “One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime*. All of us can support the research that will beat it. It’s a sobering statistic, but Aaron and Wendy hope their story will inspire people to make a difference and become a part of the solution to this devastating disease. Aaron continued: “It’s vital that survival rates are improved because there is nothing more heart-breaking than hearing your child has cancer; other than hearing a low success rate or even worse that nothing can be done. Children deserve every chance at life and their families deserve to support their child with a successful treatment and good chances. “It’s such a heart-breaking process and journey and it would be wonderful to have research that would provide better outcomes. Esmé has amazed us with her resilience, positivity and enthusiasm for love and life. She is my absolute world and she has smiled her way through nearly two years of treatment. We as a family have stuck together and supported my angel through every step but the truth is, she has carried us through.”
The family have another four years to go before Esmé is officially classed as being in remission but thanks to her life-saving treatment Aaron and Wendy are feeling positive about the future. Aaron continued: “We are hopeful and have every faith that our princess will get there but research that goes into getting more positive outcomes for children with cancer is vital in saving this heartache for families like ourselves. We are getting closer with each three monthly scan and I’m the proudest daddy in the world.” Wendy added: “The moment Esmé became really poorly she just wanted Aaron, she was a daddy’s girl anyway. Aaron was so strong and I think she went to him because he’s a great dad and she needed someone to be strong. He is her protector, big and strong and ever-loving. He has always been my rock and made me feel safe so I can understand why she wanted to be wrapped up with him. “There is nothing Aaron wouldn’t do for his baby girl to help her and make her feel loved and confident. When he got the tattoo, he took a photo of it to the tattooist straight after surgery. Esmé now loves having a matching scar with her daddy. The future is full of hope. Esmé had her fourth birthday and it wasn’t in hospital and it wasn’t around treatment. She had a chocolate fountain and she played pass the parcel and she did all the stuff you’re meant to be doing when you are four, she laughed and she ate too much cake, she got over tired and it was wonderful.”
Patrick Keely, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Norfolk, said: “We are grateful to Aaron, Wendy and their family for their support. Cancer Research UK is the only UK charity fighting more than 200 types of cancer. COVID-19 has hit us hard, but we are more focussed than ever on our ambition of seeing 3 in 4 people survive their cancer by 2034. “As a result of the pandemic, cancer is as urgent an issue now as it’s ever been. With so many people affected, we’re all in this together, so I hope that people across the region will play their part. Every action – big or small – helps Cancer Research UK to ensure more people survive.” In the East of England, around 36,800 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Cancer Research UK’s work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has been at the heart of the progress that has seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years. Patrick added: “This past year proves, more than any other, the value of research and what can be achieved together. Just like science is our route out of the pandemic, science is our route to beating cancer. “That’s why we want to harness the ‘people power’ of our incredible supporters, because the progress we make relies on every hour of research, every pound donated and everyone who gets involved. “So, whether they give £2 a month, sign up to Race for Life, volunteer at our shops or pledge to leave a gift in their Will – with the help of people in Norfolk we believe that together we will beat cancer.” Cancer Research UK was able to spend over £60 million in the East of England last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.