Childhood cancer survivor reconnects with favorite nurse 30 years later

Liz Brown, now 43, said that nurse Debbie Bye, pictured by her side in 1989, helped her cope after she was told she was dying. (SWNS)

A child cancer survivor has been reunited with her “life-changing” nurse 30 years after she was told she was dying.

Liz Brown, 43, made a heart warming Twitter appeal to find nurse Debbie Bye who cared for her in 1989 when she was told she had just five years to live.

The search went viral – being shared more than 1,000 times before being seen by a person who put them in touch.

“My prognosis was very poor. I wasn’t expected to live more than five years, but now I’m 43 with three children and there’s not a wheelchair in sight,” Brown, of East Riding, Yorkshire, said. “She might have thought she was doing her job but it went above and beyond that. Those little things you did made me get through that.”

Brown was admitted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge after she woke up paralyzed on her 14th birthday.

She was later told she was suffering from aggressive osteoblastoma and was not expected to make it into adulthood.

But she defied the odds and now has three children and a successful career working with children who have autism and hearing impairments.

“I remember watching Debbie work and being so inspired by the way that she did things,” Brown said of Bye. “She was so lovely and she inspired me to work with children and I wanted to thank her for everything that she did for me.”

“She showed me that children are children no matter what is wrong with them and she treated us all the same,” she said.

As the years went by Brown said that she always wondered where Bye was, and if she still thought of her.

“After I started to get better I wanted to forget that I ever had cancer and just blocked it out of my life,” she said. “But back then the radiation was brutal and with some people later in life it can shut down their nerves.”

“And when that happened to me I had to face it all again. I started a blog and I began to wonder where Debbie, who changed so much in my life, had gone,” she said.

When Bye found out that Brown had been looking for her she cried tears of joy, because she knew that her former patient was still alive.

“To be there when Lizzy was given her prognosis was something I will never forget,” she said. “She was a teenager in denial and over the years I have often wondered what happened to her and came to the only conclusion I could do and thought she had passed away. I am blown away.”

“I hope we will be able to meet soon- there has been many tears shed tonight,” Bye said.

Bye retired from hospital work, but now works part time at a school. The reunited pair hope to meet up and make up for lost time soon.

“We are delighted to hear the news that Liz and Debbie have been reunited after the social media appeal,” Ann-Marie Ingle, chief nurse at Cambridge University Hospitals, said. “It is always heartening to hear the positive impact our staff have on our patients – even 30 years on – and this example of compassionate care happens on a daily basis at our two hospitals, Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie.”

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