An inspirational teenager who has achieved nine GCSEs despite battling severe health problems since being diagnosed with cancer aged three has been praised for his courage and determination.
Seb Murphy, 16, from Guisley, Leeds, has faced formidable hurdles since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy, a stem cell transplant and spinal fusion surgery.
During the pandemic he kept up with lessons at Bradford Grammar School thanks to a robot loaned by Leeds General Infirmary.
He is celebrating scoring a 9, five 8s and three 7s in his nine GCSEs, and will now take A-levels in psychology, business, history and English literature at the school.
He said: “It’s been a really rough journey. But the support of my family, friends, and the school has kept me strong, and I’ve had a lot of support and good care from the hospital.
“I’ve known my consultant since I was four and I’ve built up a good relationship with her.
“I just take everything one day at a time.”
Headteacher Simon Hinchliffe said: “Seb has shown a huge amount of courage and determination to keep up with his studies in the face of such tough health issues and gruelling treatments.
“We are very proud of him, he is a credit to the school and we look forward to supporting him as he pursues his A-levels in September.”
Seb went through three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy when he was first diagnosed.
After five years in remission, he was told his leukaemia had returned in December 2017.
Chemotherapy did not work this time, so he was trialled on an experimental immunotherapy treatment to get him into remission.
A stem cell transplant was needed and a German donor was identified as a match.
Seb received the life-saving operation in April 2018.
His immune system was wiped out and he spent six weeks in hospital, isolating, and missed 18 months of school during treatment and recovery.
Seb shielded during his recovery, and during the Covid pandemic, so he continued his studies using a robot which sat in lessons for him and beamed the action back to his tablet at home.
He said: “I was shielding for quite a while because of Covid and so my friends and other people in the year group would take the robot and move it around for different lessons.
“I’m also very grateful for the support of my teachers who did live Teams lessons for me to access at home which enabled me to keep up with my learning on the days I’ve not been well enough to get into school.”
The dedicated pupil still faces health challenges and only has around one third of his normal lung capacity, which impacts his stamina and energy levels.
Even after sitting his GCSEs, he faced another operation, this time having spinal fusion surgery to correct scoliosis which developed during his cancer treatment.
Looking back at his exams, Seb said: “I’m really pleased with my results – it’s more than I expected. I’m looking forward to celebrating with family and friends.
“I would advise anyone in a similar situation to just keep on going, keep working hard and stay positive.”