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GCSE Results: ‘I won’t let cancer affect my plans for the future’
SOME 16-year-olds would take any opportunity to skip school, especially around exams season.
Elliott Dugdale was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer five months ago but still took every one of his exams in school with his friends around him.
Despite having four rounds of chemotherapy during which he lost all his hair, he only took one day off school when he wasn’t actually in hospital.
Three weeks ago, he had the tumour, along with the lower half of his leg, removed.
But determined never to lose his sense of humour, the first morning he took the bandages off his amputation he took a picture, uploaded it to Facebook and tagged his mum in it.
Yesterday, surrounded by his fellow pupils at Fitzharry’s School in Abingdon he found out he had got two Bs, three Cs and three Ds in his GCSEs.
That means he will be able to go to Oxford and Cherwell Valley College (OCVC) in September at the same time as his peers, even though he doesn’t know anyone else who is going on his course.
Elliott, who lives in Blackbird Leys, said: “The exams influence my future, I didn’t want this to hold me back.” The tumour in Elliott’s leg, diagnosed at Easter this year, was a rhabdomyosarcoma – a particularly aggressive soft tissue cancer.
Despite his weeks of chemotherapy to shrink it, it was still wrapped around the key nerves running to his foot. There was no way doctors could remove it without cutting the nerves which would leave his foot useless. It was Elliott who had to decide whether to have a useless foot for the rest of his life, or have it amputated.
Elliott’s mum Sarah Dugdale said: “This was all during revision. “He was determined that everything needed to be planned around exams and the schools prom.
Elliott decided to lose the foot and get rid of the cancer in one go. “He didn’t want to be walking around with a limp for the rest of his life.” Elliott’s struggle is not over though. He still has to have five more rounds of chemotherapy to make sure there are no residual cancer cells in his body.
Earlier this week he was fitted for a prosthetic leg which will be made for him. He said he wanted to thank his physiotherapist Holly at Oxford Children’s Hospital, who has helped him every day to recover from his operation.
Elliott’s dream is to work in computer games and he will use the nine months of his Life Skills course at OCVC to help him decide which direction he should take next.
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