News

14-y-o JC student on the mend after cancer surgery

'I'm feeling better'

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer staff reporter husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 20, 2014    

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Though weak and pale from seven weeks of radiotherapy and three weeks of chemotherapy, 14-year-old Jamaica College (JC) student Ryan Bowen said he is feeling better as he recuperates at home from stage-two nasopharyngeal cancer.

"My throat is still a little sore, but I'm feeling better," Bowen said in a follow-up interview at his Spanish Town home on Friday, one week after being discharged from hospital.

Bowen's condition was made public in the Sunday Observer three months ago after which a number of readers assisted the family in covering treatment costs for the student, who was just about to enter second form at the time of the diagnosis.

Nasopharyngeal cancer is a disease that starts in the nasopharynx -- the upper part of the throat behind the nose and near the base of the skull.

"I did seven weeks of radiotherapy, every day, each week," Bowen explained. "Before that, I did three sessions of chemotherapy, each one lasted a week. And in August I'm supposed to go back to do a CAT (computerised tomography) scan."

Bowen's mother, Marcella Buckeridge, said while she awaits the results of the scan to confirm whether or not the cancer is in remission, she is confident he has passed the worst.

"I am not sure what is happening with the cancer because up to now I have not been told by the doctors what is happening," Buckeridge said. "After the scan, then I will know if it has been burnt out, but he looks good to me, he looks as if he has succeeded through his trial -- that is how he looks to me. He looks as if he has overcome it. Three months ago he looked really sick, but now he looks fresh."

Buckeridge also said she was thankful that her son is able to eat soft foods, despite the soreness in this throat.

"He is eating, but very slowly; he is alright," Buckeridge added.

And while she thanks God for the progress the second of her three children has made, Buckeridge said she could not have done it without the assistance of Jamaicans here and abroad.

"I got a lot of help; without help we could not manage," Buckeridge said. "So I want to say a big, big thanks to Jamaica College and to each and every Jamaican near and far who has supported Ryan Bowen. I am grateful to everyone who helped."

Buckeridge is hoping that her son will recover in time to attend school in September, having missed a year of his education.

She recounted what her son went through during that period.

"His neck started hurting him. But I never took it seriously," she explained. "But it started getting worse, his neck even looked twisted, like an S, so I had to take him to the Spanish Town Hospital. But it was a public holiday (National Heroes' Day) so they never looked after him. They said I should take him to the health centre."

The road from there proved very stressful for both Bowen and his family. The situation was made even worse, seven months after discovering he had cancer, when he was also diagnosed with appendicitis, for which he had to undergo an operation.

Today, the youngster admits that what affected him most was being forced to stay out of school. However, he has since accepted that the matter is out of his hands and has great hope of overcoming the illness to live his dream of becoming a scientist or an entrepreneur.

"I feel like I can fight this and move on to achieving my dream," Bowen said in a previous interview.

This April 2014 photo shows Jamaica College student Ryan Bowen, who was diagnosed with stage-two nasopharyngeal cancer.

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