She had just celebrated becoming a teenager with a dream trip to see one of her favourite singers Taylor Swift perform all her hits.
But just days later, Lauren Fitzgerald's world was turned upside down when doctors revealed a pain in her side was actually stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma.
Since those special 13th birthday celebrations in Dublin in June last year, the Newry girl has undergone 15 gruelling months of treatment.
This has included chemotherapy, surgery, a stem cell transplant, radiotherapy and immunisation, which will finish this month.
But despite everything she has been through, the brave 14-year-old wants to help others and is calling on the public to clear out their wardrobes to help more children and young people survive cancer.
She is supporting TK Maxxs Give Up Clothes For Good campaign, in support of Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People.
Mum Mary Clare said: "It's thanks to research that Lauren is here today.However, despite intensive treatment, too few children are cured, and many suffer lifelong health problems.
"Research is needed into more effective and less harmful treatments for all childhood cancers.Thats why raising money for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People is so important.
"Lauren and I will be having a good clear out at home and finding clothes and items to donate to our local TK Maxx store at Merchants Quay. I hope everyone will get behind this vitally important campaign and turn something they no longer need into funds for such a fantastic cause."
Lauren's life changed forever after marking her 13th birthday with the perfect trip to Dublin to see Taylor Swift at Croke Park with her mum and sister Niamh last June.
Just two days later she took a pain in her side and within a week of enjoying her birthday treat, her parents were told she had cancer. A few days later the pain was so great she was unable to walk.
Laurens diagnosis was terrifying for Mary Clare, an accountant who had to give up her job to care for Lauren, dad Garrett, who runs a sandwich business, Niamh (18) and brothers Sean (16) and James (20).
Lauren had a tumour on her adrenal gland and the disease spread to her bones and blood.
A hard-hitting 15-month course of treatment started immediately and Lauren has endured a gruelling year coming through chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, a stem cell transplant, as well as numerous blood and platelet transfusions.
She has spent months in hospital unable to walk due to pain and weakness because of the disease and treatments.
Mum Mary Clare said: "Back in June 2018 Lauren was a typical teenager. She is a pupil of Sacred Heart School and likes drama, computers, reading and Lego. She has a wide circle of friends and had just started to go to a couple of teen discos.
"She was 13 on June 13, 2018 and on June 16 we went to see Taylor Swift in Croke Park for her birthday.
"On June 18 she was doing her exams when the school rang to say she had a pain in her side. She is a child who was never ill so I thought it was a bit strange and I took her to the doctor.
"The GP referred us to A&E with a suspected appendicitis and they told us at Daisy Hill it could also be muscular and if it didnt go away in a week we were to go back to the hospital.
"Two days later the pain was much worse and on June 21 Lauren was admitted to Daisy Hill for tests. She had a CT scan that showed she had a 9cm tumour near her kidney and two days later she was transferred to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children."
Lauren went through a batch of tests including an MRI, a biopsy, lumber puncture and MIBG scan, which revealed the devastating news that she had stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma.
Her mum added: "We were all in shock. I had never even heard of neuroblastoma or personally known another child with cancer.
"I went online to find out more and what I read was really frightening. Teenagers Google everything and I was terrified of what Lauren would read.
"The consultant advised us to be as open as possible with her and he actually explained the illness to her and the treatments. She asked could she still go to school and was so upset when he said not for at least another year.
"She was very teary, and it is hard to get your head around it. She was in a lot of pain and unable to walk at that stage and all she wanted was for the pain to stop."
Lauren started chemotherapy on July 5, less than three weeks after she had the first pain.
She had eight cycles over 80 days. Her hair fell out after the second cycle as her health got worse.
Her blood counts dropped and she needed numerous blood and platelet transfusions.
In October she underwent a seven-hour surgery to remove the primary tumour, which was a success, and then faced a course of high dose chemotherapy every six hours for five days.
This was followed by a stem cell transplant after which she had to spend three weeks in isolation.
In January of this year she started 14 days of radiotherapy and has just had her first immunisation treatment, which will finish this month.
Each year, around 140 young people under 25 years old are diagnosed with cancer in the Northern Ireland.
Jean Walsh,Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Northern Ireland, said: More children and young people than ever are surviving cancer, but theres still so much more to do.
Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults from the types of cancer to the impact of treatment and the long-term side effects survivors often experience. So, it needs different, dedicated research which campaigns like Give Up Clothes For Good help to fund.
Cancer Research UK has funded many of the worlds most successful clinical trials for childrens and young peoples cancer treatments and continues to support vital ongoing research and clinical trials looking at improving survival and treatment.
We want to help more children and young people across Northern Ireland survive cancer with a good quality of life.
Thats why we hope as many people as possible will show their support and donate any quality clothes or goods to their local TK Maxx store. Unwanted items really could save lives.
People can donate at any TK Maxx store, all year round, includingthe store at Unit A, 41/45 Merchants Quay, Newry.
Supporters can also help raise funds by wearing a gold ribbon badge the awareness symbol of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month available from TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK stores throughout September.
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