A teenager who was diagnosed with leukaemia just months before he was due to sit his GCSEs has today spoken of his amazing exam success.
Exactly five months ago 16-year-old Santy Correa was given the devastating diagnosis, just weeks before the Unity Academy pupil was due to hand in coursework and sit GCSE and BTEC exams.
After going to the doctors in March complaining of feeling tired, falling asleep in classes, losing weight and suffering daily nosebleeds, he was rushed to specialist cancer unit The Christie, in Manchester, where he was given the shocking news.
His condition also worsened, leaving him unable to walk, needing blood transfusions and taking a cocktail of medicine.
But brave Santy battled back, managed to sit his exams and yesterday was overjoyed to find he had got two grade Bs and five Cs as well two BTEC qualifications.
He said: “It’s exactly five months since I was diagnosed so I’m feeling good I passed what I needed to.
“I’d fall asleep in my maths classes but I still got a C.
“It was so daunting to hear the words, they just echoed through my head.
“I had to stay in hospital for 11 days then and started chemotherapy. I went in feeling fine but then I got really ill.
“I was sick, I couldn’t move out of bed and I had to have blood transfusions.”
The teen also had to face breaking the news to his schoolmates, who he’s been friends with since Year Seven, and said thinking of the future was difficult to do.
Best friend James Buigues-Gardner, 16, from North Shore, said: “I didn’t believe him when he told us at first but then I just cried all day to be honest.”
Santy added: “I’d be woken up every four hours for tests and had to have 11 tablets each day and then I had to have a bone marrow sample taken which was just so painful.
“I just wanted to get it all over and done with.
“But if the tablets don’t work I’ll have to have a bone marrow transplant, that’s the worst thing that can happen.
“It’s frustrating, I feel fine and I look fine but I know I’m not 100%.”
Proud teacher Tony Wood, who mentored Santy and his close group of friends through their maths work, said: “It’s amazing that he has overcome this major personal catastrophe.
“He’s a very bright lad and a lively boy but there were no special concessions from the exam boards, he was faced with either coming in to take exams or get nothing at all.
“I’m very proud of him. In 30 years of teaching I’ve never known anything like this before.
“Teachers come to school for young people to have a better future in life, you don’t expect the prospect of a child dying.
“Some of his strength has come from a very close group of friends who have been there for him and refused to let him get down.”
Mum Claire Hirst, 39, said: “When someone says the words cancer or leukaemia you think your world is caving in, it was such a shock, it’s scary stuff.
“He’s still my baby boy so it is a worry but you just don’t like to think those dark thoughts, you have to be positive.
“It’s not actually as bad as we thought it would be though he could have it for years.”
She added: “It’s been a rollercoaster the last few months.
“I just wanted him to be able to be a normal teenager
“I thought he was going to miss his exams and he had to have a lot of time off but he’s a bright lad and I’m very impressed with him.
“I’m so happy for him and he’s doing so well.”
The teen will find out in the next fortnight whether the daily tablets and series of blood transfusions have been enough to beat the cancer.
If not he faces having a bone marrow transplant and a year long recovery period.
His mother added: “That’s when it could really hit us.
“For now, because he doesn’t look poorly it’s easier to deal with.”