‘Perspective is everything’: 4-year-old finishes chemotherapy with a smile

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 1, 2022

NEW ORLEANS — Four-year-old Claire Lambremont’s ever-present optimism shined through the day she had a through-the-knee amputation on her left leg to remove a cancerous tumor.

Waking up from the surgery, Claire asked when the doctors were going to take her leg. Her parents explained the surgery was already over, anxious to see her response. To their surprise, Clair peeked under the blankets, eyed her right leg, and said, “Well, I still have this one, though!”

Since last summer, Claire has endured 29 weeks of chemotherapy, 14 blood transfusions, two platelets transfusions and five emergency room visits related to fever or neutropenia. On May 11, 2022, just shy of one year past her Ewing’s Sarcoma diagnosis, Claire got to ring the bell to celebrate the end of her chemotherapy.

Through it all, she has tackled cancer with a smile and a positive outlook.

“She is one of the toughest people I know and has taught us so much as a family,” said Claire’s mother, Meghan Lambremont. “Perspective is everything! We can’t wait to see all that our girl will do!”

While the Lambremont family resides in Ascension Parish, parents Jay and Meghan have strong ties to St. John. Both are graduates of St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace, and Jay has supported countless community events through his work at Marathon Petroleum Company in Garyville.

Jay and Meghan learned their daughter had a malignant tumor at the end of May 2021. In the second week of June, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that affects the bones and surrounding tissue.

One month later, the St. John the Baptist Parish community joined “Claire Bear’s Army” and hosted a benefit golf tournament at Riverlands Golf and Country Club in LaPlace, drawing support from more than 350 participants.

On September 30, 2021, about halfway through Claire’s chemo journey, she underwent PET CT whole body, CT chest and MRI lower extremity scans, followed by an X-ray on October 1. The tests revealed that Claire’s primary tumor in her upper tibia had responded well to chemo, but she wasn’t out of the woods, and it had come time to discuss surgery options.

A decision was made to amputate Claire’s leg to the knee.

“Jay and I were very confident in at peace with our decision, knowing the possibility of  many unknowns with attempting the limb salvaging procedure,” Meghan said. “At Claire’s age of only 3, with no complications/infections, we were facing at least 12 surgeries not including, recovery, pain management, mobility limitations, etc.”

Following Claire’s surgery on October 14, 2021, the family has kept a lighthearted attitude to cope with the situation. Claire was the one who started it all; when a physical therapist walked in the day after surgery and handed her a pair of socks, she laughed and exclaimed, “Momma, they gave me two socks. I only need one.”

After recovering from surgery, Claire resumed chemotherapy with eight rounds remaining. She also began working with family friend Brittany Vicknair, a double-amputee and co-owner of Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates of Louisiana.

While Claire was initially nervous about walking with a prosthetic, she shined through as always and started walking by early December. Since then, she has mastered her new leg and has resumed all normal activities, including running, cartwheels, playing softball, hide and seek, and swimming.

After finishing chemo, new scans revealed Claire’s lungs had responded so well to treatment that she would only need two-and-a-half weeks of radiation, as opposed to the previously anticipated four-to-six weeks. It was difficult being away from home at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, but it also provided a nice change of scenery. Meghan stayed in Memphis, and Jay stayed home with their other two children while Claire edged closer to the finish line.

“We made the best of Memphis by trying many different food places and attractions,” Meghan said. “We are now awaiting last scans before setting up Claire surgery to have her mediport removed. She is doing amazing and is such a ray of light. We thank everyone who has prayed for us, loved us, supported through this marathon of a journey. It truly has been humbling.”

Through this journey, Claire has been featured on The Blood Center Calendar, named Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates of Louisiana’s Patient of the Month, and participated in a high-five photoshoot with the Bella Bowman Foundation. Video interviews have allowed her to share her story from a young age.

While in Memphis, she also had the opportunity to throw the first pitch at the Redbirds and Omaha game.