04:36PM, Thursday 02 September 2021
Jeremy during his treatment.
A teenager from Slough is starring in a national campaign run by a young person’s cancer charity to raise awareness of what it is like being a child faced with the disease.
Jeremy Attoh Ammah, 13, was diagnosed with cancer in March last year, just as the country went into lockdown.
The campaign – run by Young Lives vs Cancer - is calling on the voices of children to be heard, as they face challenges of treatment during a pandemic.
Diagnosed with a type of bone cancer – known as osteosarcoma – in his leg, Jeremy had surgery and chemotherapy and spent months away from home, and is now sharing his story in light of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
“I had been feeling pains in my knee and ankle, but the doctors didn’t know what was wrong,” the teenager said. “The pain made me cry at night. Then my mum took me to hospital and that’s when everything started.
“I was in the room with my mum and dad when the doctor told us I had cancer. I started crying and asked: ‘was I going to die?’ I started Googling, checking what osteosarcoma is and asked, if I had treatment, would I lose my hair?”
On top of the gruelling effects of the treatment, Jeremy and his family were also forced to deal with the national lockdown.
He said: “The worry I had was if I was going to catch the virus and spread it to my family. I was only allowed one parent with me in hospital.
“When I went home, I still wasn’t allowed out. I felt upset and angry because I wanted people to come and visit me.”
Jeremy had surgery to remove his tibia and have it replaced with a metal device motor which will grow with him, followed by chemotherapy to treat his cancer, just before Christmas and the second lockdown.
During his treatment, he and his family were supported by Young Lives vs Cancer and a social worker from the charity, called Grace.
Jeremy said: “She reassured me and told me the things that I could get to take my mind off the things happening around me.
“She helped us with what I needed and helped me to get a laptop and I was very happy. I could go on Zoom and YouTube and play games which kept my mind off my treatment.”
Jeremy (pictured now, below) is happy now to have finished treatment and looking to the future – including starring in the charity’s campaign to promote children’s voices.
He added that he is also ‘more than my cancer’, with a desire to be a doctor when he gets older, to ‘put smiles on children and families who are struggling’.
Rachel Kirby-Rider, CEO of Young Lives vs Cancer, said: “Having cancer when you’re a child is scary, lonely, relentless and painful. Over the past year children have missed out on so much.
“This year for Childhood Cancer Awareness we want everyone to see children with cancer for who they are and who they want to be.”
Young Lives vs Cancer is calling on people to help support families facing the disease, by getting a gold ribbon pin badge.
The badges are available at Young Lives vs Cancer charity shops, Morrisons stores, or online for a donation.
Supporters can also take part in Challenge60 – and fundraise by completing 60 miles throughout the month anyway they like.
Visit www.younglivesvscancer.org.uk for more information on the charity and to make a donation.
To watch the campaign video, which features Jeremy, click here.