SHE may be just seven years old, but Chantelle Cummings has already had to endure more operations than most people would undergo in a lifetime.
The youngster from Longstone has had more than 20 operations in her life including major brain surgery two years ago to treat a condition that pushes the lower part of her brain towards her spinal chord.
Treatment has involved regular visits to the Sick Kids Hospital in Sciennes and forced the girl to miss most of her first year of school. Mother Charlene Cummings said her daughter’s ability to keep smiling through those hardships had convinced her to nominate the brave girl for the inaugural Sick Kids Heroes awards.
Chantelle is in the “patient who has filled us with admiration” category. The awards recognising selfless staff, outstanding supporters and brave patients coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.
Mum-of-three Charlene said: “Chantelle is an inspiration to us all. You’d never know she’s undergone more than 20 operations as she’s always so happy and outgoing – she never lets anything get her down.
“She has shown outstanding bravery over the past few years and it would be amazing to see her win this award.” Chantelle was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, sixth nerve palsy and intracranial hypertension aged just three.
The range of conditions have left her with persistent headaches and mean Chantelle gets extremely tired after little exercise. Life-saving surgery in February 2011 involved removing parts of the skull from the back of her neck. Charlene said: “There is another operation planned. That’s not for now, but if she does need it, it will be another brain operation to relieve the headaches.
“She’s an amazing individual. The bravery she’s shown after every single operation is just beyond her age.”
Sick Kids Friends Foundation chief executive Maureen Harrison said: “Chantelle is the perfect example of a patient who has filled us with admiration. She battles through a very rare condition every single day and yet she is never seen without a smile on her little face.”
And while her daughter is up for an award, Charlene is probably deserving of a nomination in her own right.
The 24-year-old will skydive for the first time on April 20 at Fife Airfield near Glenrothes, with Chantelle present.
Charlene has so far raised £1000 for the worthy cause, but is encouraging more sponsors to get involved. Those wanting to help sponsor Charlene or donate raffle prizes can contact her on email@example.com.
Nominations in by April 11. Judging is on April 18. Votes can be cast on the Friends Foundation Facebook page.
To nominate your hero:
Phone: 0131-668 4949