Will's story

Will Smith was 16 and had just started sixth form when he was diagnosed with leukaemia. He had to spend two months in hospital and his school was brilliant in keeping in touch. They also went out of their way to support Will when he returned to school by altering his timetable and providing a “nap room”.

“I had more cards than people I know. The support has been incredible. I was in hospital for about two months and I didn’t go outside for all that time. I had cards from every teacher. I’ve always got on well with my teachers so maybe they were more inclined to help me than students who maybe didn’t have the same sort of relationships with them.

There’s about 600 students in Marling School and about 200 in each year in the sixth form. A group of my friends raised huge amounts of money for charity. They shaved their heads and have done a variety of fundraising events.

On a personal level the school has been so helpful. They moved classes so it would be easier for me to get to lessons and had classes timetabled around me. They set up a bedroom for me so I’d have somewhere to sleep if I was feeling tired. They took everything out of there and set up a bed. I was getting so tired from all the different medication but I felt it was important to be in school so this helped hugely.

My school has made it so much easier. They swapped classes for me so I wouldn’t have to walk so far to lessons and they changed timetables so I had all my favourite teachers. Seeing them made me want to go to my lessons. They made sure we were always kept informed about things. For example, whenever a teacher wanted to send an email or letter explaining what was happening they’d always inform me first. I’m not entirely sure how everyone found out. My best friend told my closest friends and I think they had an assembly at school because lots of people did fundraising events.

I look forward to school, not so much to learn but to see people, that’s a huge aspect of school life to me and is what I missed the most when I couldn’t go. I was offered the chance to go to the hospital school but I wanted to keep hospital and school separate.

The school stayed in contact and would send emails to my mum. She asked them to send me work to look at so I could keep my eye in. I was doing AS Levels in Psychology, History, English Literature and Philosophy. I dropped Psychology because it was impossible to carry on with four subjects and psychology was completely new. I’ve managed to do my English AS Levels and half my History course. So next year I’ll be doing Year 13 English Year 12 History and AS in Philosophy.

I’ll have to stay on an extra year which is by far the worst thing. The side effects of cancer pale in comparison with the fact everyone I’ve known for the last seven or eight years is going to leave and I’m going to be left behind. However great the year below might be they’re not my group of friends and it’s something I’ve not come to terms with, this being left behind. I can’t deal with it so I’m putting off thinking about it. I’m hoping to do English Literature and History maybe in York or Birmingham University.