In January, Leigh Sharpe, of Lexington, had a severe upset stomach and stomach pain that refused to go away.
She became so nauseated, she missed a week of school. In February, her family thought she was getting better, but Leigh was managing her symptoms by restricting her food intake. By the end of March, Leigh’s stomach pain worsened and she couldn’t keep any food down.
An active varsity softball player, Leigh kept her grades high as she and her family searched for relief from her symptoms.
While waiting for a consultation with a gastroenterologist, Leigh’s pediatrician sent her to the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. “Leigh’s pediatrician was trying to rule things out,” said Leigh’s mother, Rebecca Sharpe. A CT scan showed that every lymph node between Leigh’s abdomen and neck was swollen. Leigh was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is extremely rare in children.
Because her cancer is so rare, pediatric hematologist/oncologists Ron Neuberg, MD and Stuart Cramer, MD, got Leigh a consultation at Duke. The physicians there worked with the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital experts on a treatment protocol to ensure Leigh could stay here for treatment. She takes a form of oral chemotherapy that has never been given to a child under 18.
Leigh is under the care of Stuart Cramer, MD, and the pediatric oncology team at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. “We love Dr. Cramer and Leigh especially loves her nurse, Carrie Ross in the clinic and Ms. Trisha Heyward, the patient services tech,” said Rebecca Sharpe.
“Everybody’s been great,” said Rebecca Sharpe. “We were so relieved we could stay in our community for Leigh’s chemotherapy. Rebecca and her husband, Tim, own a family heating and air service business. Leigh is 16 and has a brother, Will, 13. Leigh and her family have a strong network of friends and family supporting them and they focus on encouraging other families whose children are dealing with cancer.