Essex: Colchester GCSE pupil’s Stateside radiotherapy fails to stop straight As success
18:30 21 August 2014
One pupil was all smiles yesterday after he achieved 12 straight A*/As in his GCSE results despite spending three months in the USA receiving pioneering radiotherapy treatment.
Tom Brown, 16, was first diagnosed with a benign tumour around his salivary glands when he was nine, and had an operation to have the gland and growth removed.
However in June last year the growth returned, forcing Tom to have a second operation in September just as he started Year 11.
He then spent three months in Florida from the end of January this year until April getting a specialist proton radiotherapy, sponsored by the NHS as part of a pilot scheme, to get rid of any cancer cells which remained. He received the targeted treatment once a day, five days a week.
Tom kept up with his studies via email, returning to school just a month before study leave began in which time he had to complete two oral exams in language subjects.
However the Cressing resident still achieved A*s in maths, statistics, English language, French, Spanish, double combined science, history, geography, technology, music and Latin, as well as As in ICT and English literature.
Tom said: “It was not an ideal year.
“Fortunately being in Florida was not a bad substitute for school and luckily the treatment itself didn’t affect me too much physically so I could go out and live a fairly normal lifestyle, though it was fatiguing.
“It was tricky to keep motivated and keep working, and I can’t thank the school enough. I was in regular contact with all of my teachers via email and the deputy head as a link, and they sent me work a couple of times a week with work and updates from the classroom.
“I took a 30kg bag with all my books in out to Florida, much to the airline’s delight.
“Most of my GCSEs were final exams at the end, but I had ongoing assessments in history and technology which I had to try to complete out there and I had to do my Spanish and English oral exams the week I got back.
“But it all worked out in the end.
“I am ecstatic about my results. I genuinely was not expecting these results but I am really pleased and pleasantly surprised to get them.
“I am still a little shocked, it has not sunk in yet.
“Huge thanks go to the school for all the support, and my family as well, it was awesome and really carried me through the treatment.”
Tom, who plays the piano, viola, electric guitar and drums, is now going onto sixth form at the school.
Headteacher Ken Jenkinson said: “Given the year Tom’s had, we would have been pleased with whatever he had achieved.
“These results are amazing and testimony to his maturity and commitment, and to the support of his family and teachers through the treatment period.
“I was delighted to see him looking so well and happy today.
“Special thanks go to deputy headteacher Peter Jones who coordinated all the arrangements for Tom during his extended absence from school.”