CLIC Sargent highlighted the impact of cancer on the school life of younger children during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2012.
Our research - No Child with Cancer Left Out - identified a range of challenges that children face keeping up with their education and school friends during and after cancer treatment. We do all we can to help - our care professionals aim to support the whole family through treatment.
This is Bradley's story. He was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in March 2006.
He was due to begin his first year of primary school the month after his treatment. It was another six months before Bradley was well enough to start going to school.
His mum, Anita, explains the battle that she faced trying to get him the support he needed to keep up.
Looking for alternatives
"Bradley wasn’t school age when he entered hospital for treatment, so he didn’t receive school education in hospital.
"The hospital told me about home tuition and I spoke to the head teacher of Bradley’s future school about arranging this. She was then able to organise a teaching assistant to come to our house five hours a week, that’s all we could manage with hospital visits scheduled.
"She would cover with Bradley what was being taught to his class at school and tried to make him feel like he wouldn’t be too far behind. This was a great benefit to Bradley and she also introduced him to a child living close by who was in his class and they became friends from there. Bradley looked forward to her coming, it kept him active and alert."
"Because Bradley missed almost all of his first year and only attended three days a week in his second year, he was very behind by the end of year two.
"I asked his teacher for extra work for him and felt I had to be very pro-active to ensure the school were providing the support he needed. I felt that I really couldn’t back down or Bradley would have been forgotten about.
"When I met with his teacher for the first time it was clear she hadn’t even been informed that Bradley had cancer and had very different needs to the other children. This really angered me."
Issues with confidence
"Bradley has a lot of confidence issues in the classroom because he missed out on being taught phonics with the rest of the class and so his reading has suffered.
"I think he felt very left out of some activities but most of the time I tried to encourage him to try things like swimming, which he now loves. Initially he didn’t want to get involved and was very reluctant to show his chest or legs because he is very thin and has scars.
"Bradley’s confidence was really knocked around other children.
"He finds it relatively easy to speak to adults and is comfortable around them because he was so used to being in adult company in the hospital. When in isolation he couldn’t be around other children and even at home he wasn’t allowed to come into contact with other children, due to the risk of infection."
"Bradley is teased at school for being weak and that really upsets him. He is a placid child so won’t fight back or try to defend himself in any sense.
"Generally I don’t think the school did enough to support Bradley and if he had gone back to school before his hair had grown back, I think it would have been so much worse for him."