Kieran Arthey with his stepdad David Monk and mum Clare Arthey
by Angela Cole
He's conquered one of the biggest fights of his life, but former leukaemia sufferer Kieran Arthey is taking on another on behalf of children like him who have battled cancer and tried to keep up with their schoolwork at the same time.
Eleven-year-old Kieran, who is now in Year 7 at Maidstone Grammar School in Barton Road, was invited to the House of Commons by CLIC Sargent to highlight the need for youngsters with the disease don’t get left behind when they return to school.
Mark Tami MP, whose own son Max had leukaemia at the age of nine, was calling for improvements in primary education provision for affected children in an adjournment debate on Friday.
Kieran’s mum, Clare Arthey, filled in an online survey about his schooling with CLIC last year, which was used in a report released last month, No Child With Cancer Left Out.
Kieran had been diagnosed at the age of eight with a rare form of leukaemia, PH Plus, and missed Year 4 at primary school. He had to have a stem cell transplant in February 2010, which knocked his immune system and meant he had to stay off school longer.
Despite losing so much time, he went on to pass his 11 Plus and gain a place at grammar school.
Clare said: “He still does get very tired and that will be for years to come, as a result of his radiotherapy.
"He is small and he is skinny and I worry about him playing rugby, but he does it.”
She said of Kieran’s trip to the Houses of Parliament, which included a tour, a visit to the House where he was able to sit where Prime Minister David Cameron sits, and a tour of the House of Lords: “He was buzzing when he got home – not tired at all.”
The report found that 35% of parents felt their child was bullied or teased on their return to school after being diagnosed with cancer, and 47% said their child had grown apart from their friends, with their school not helping maintain contact with classmates.
About 70% said they received some form of education when off school but 56% said they found it hard to readjust to school and one in five said they were unnecessarily excluded from trips.
Mr Tami, who represents Alyn and Deeside in Wales, was told by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare that the “pupils with cancer deserve as good an education as any other pupil and poor health should never mean poor education.”