Devoted reader bravely beats cancer – and wins top prize
The teenager whiled away the hours in hospital by racing through his favourite reads, such as the Skulduggery Pleasant fantasy series.
“My favourite ones are based on Marvel characters. Iron Man is just b r i l l i a n t ,” said the bright youngster.
“I spent time poring over the plots, wondering how I could write storylines like this myself.
“I read every Harry Potter book, some twice, and then moved on to Thomas Hardy novels.
“The books stopped me thinking about the chemo, which was making me feel sick and very tired.
“I have to be honest, I never thought I would die. “I knew I would survive.” The eldest of five boys, Declan’s cancer returned and he had to undergo a stem cell transplant from an unknown donor in January.
The treatment l owered
his immune system and confined him to the teenage cancer ward.
It was then that Declan was awarded his school’s prize for English and its Tom Kennedy Award for outstanding work.
He was too ill to attend prizegiving so his parents Amandajane and Gavin attended the special day on his behalf.
And his teachers delivered his English certificate personally to his cancer ward.
“I felt really happy because I had been at school just three days of third year,” smiled Declan.
Doting dad Gavin, 40, said: “It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
“Not only had Declan beaten a serious cancer but he had excelled
Declan meets Still Game stars Sanjeev Kohli, Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill; and with brothers Ewan, Kieran, Sandy and Lochlan. in his lessons. At the age of 14 he had had to endure what most people do not suffer in a lifetime.
“Throughout it all he ploughed on with his school work.
“He has always had a book in his hands since he was a toddler.”
Amandajane, 34, said: “We have been through some tough times but Declan has thrived. “He is our Iron Man.” The family had a double celebration when Amandajane gave birth to baby Sandy, now five months old.
Declan’s brave journey will now feature in a compelling new documentary.
Growing Up With Cancer will be shown on BBC One tomorrow at 7.30pm.