Alder Hey helps teenage cancer survivor enjoy life

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Amir Robinson-Behnejad was 13 years old when he was told he had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. But five years on he is now in his first year of his economics degree at Sheffield Hallam University.

Thanks to the fast reaction of doctors and nurses, Amir was seen the second he walked through the doors of the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Now 18, he first thought the cancer was just a heavy cold that started in December 2015 and left him feeling ill over Christmas that year. Following numerous trips to the GP, he was finally sent to the West Derby based hospital in late January 2016 where he was greeted with a Domino’s pepperoni pizza and a three-year recovery plan.

He said: “It was a heavy day, but from that point on it just got easier because as soon as you get to Alder Hey, they’re very professional and you quickly realise they know what they’re doing, they’re switched on.

“As soon as I got in there, I had a pizza, I had someone to talk to and they had a plan set out. There was no waiting around, it was like ‘we know what it is, we know what we’re doing, now let’s get a move on’.

“As soon as I got into treatment, they showed me the plan, the three-year plan on the second day. As soon as I saw that I was at ease, and then it was just a case of going through the paces for the next three years and making sure I was all good.”

Five years on, and Amir is living cancer free in Sheffield, enjoying what he can in his first year of university after getting his physics, maths and economics A-Levels last year. Whilst his first year has been plagued by a global pandemic, it hasn’t stopped him loving every minute of it.

Whereas some students are devastated about Zoom lectures and a lack of social life, Amir is embracing the student life in the comfort of his halls of residence. One thing he took away from his time at Alder Hey was to enjoy life as it comes: “I’m just enjoying my time here,” he said.

“I think that is one thing I took away from it all is to just really enjoy what you’re doing right now. Try and live in the moment.

“When you go through stuff like that there are moments where I wondered ‘am I going to pull through?’ To have those thoughts and to come out the other side, you learn to not take anything for granted. You realise how great everything is.

“I sound daft but you just want to live in the moment. I’m not thinking too far ahead in the future, I just want to enjoy my time here and get a good degree.”

About Ben Roberts-Haslam, JMU Journalism