Fareham teenager credits lemon-sized brain tumour for his turnaround from failing student to GCSE success

A Fareham Academy student is celebrating his GCSE results after battling a lemon-sized brain tumour.

Friday, 23rd August 2019, 8:42 am
Tom Ritchie getting his results

Tom Ritchie was diagoned with the cancerous tumour in 2017, realising something was wrong when he was sick every day for six weeks over Christmas.

The 16-year old said he was 'completely shocked' when doctors at Southampton Hospital said he was suffering from an inoperable tumour.

He said: ''They said it was too big to operate on, so my only hope was very intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.'

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Scan of the brain tumour

The student underwent emergency keyhold surgery to perform a biopsy on part of the 'fast growing' tumour and drain a build-up of brain fluid that was putting pressure on his optic nerve.

Over the next five months, Tom was in hospital three times a week to undergo chemotherapy and then radiotherapy, with one intensive round of treatment causing him to collapse into his mum's arms as it induced a violent seizure.

He said: 'I had five straight days of different chemotherapy treatments, and at one point I had a bad recation and collapsed in my mum's arms.

'I had a seizure, and I was unconscious until the next morning.

Tom Ritchie in his hospital bed

'My mum said she didn't think I was going to make it.'

The treatment severely affected Tom's schooling, but he was supported by a tutor provided by the school.

He said: 'I missed a lot of Year 9, but the school was so supportive - I couldn't have got these results without them.'

The tumour was 'the making of him', according to Tom's dad, Mike.

Tom Ritchie opens his results Picture: Duncan Shepherd

He said: 'He was not a model student - he was failing a few subjects. But after he got the all-clear, something clicked and he realises life is for living. He even became Head Boy.'

Tom, whose cancer went into remission in May, added: 'I think of it not as the end of my treatment, but as the begining of my new life.'

He received one 4, one 5, three 6s, and one 7 in physical education in his exam results.

Tom is hoping to study sports science at Barton Peveril College, and wants to become a professional rugby player.