Teenager who thought he caught heavy cold over Christmas actually had cancer

A 13-year-old boy who thought he was simply suffering from a heavy cold was eventually diagnosed with leukaemia.

Amir Robinson-Behnejad was just 15 when he was told his symptoms were actually far more serious than initially feared and he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

Brave Amir, now 18 and cancer free, battled pneumonia at the same time as his devastating diagnosis which meant he had to live off a a fat free diet of mainly just dry toast.

Now in his first year of an economics degree at Sheffield Hallam University, Amir has praised doctors and nurses at the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool, where he was treated.

Amir said: “It was a heavy day, but from that point on it just got easier because as soon as you get to Alder Hey, they’re very professional and you quickly realise they know what they’re doing, they’re switched on.

“As soon as I got in there, I had a pizza, I had someone to talk to and they had a plan set out.

“There was no waiting around, it was like ‘we know what it is, we know what we’re doing, now let’s get a move on’.

“As soon as I got into treatment, they showed me the plan, the three-year plan on the second day.

“As soon as I saw that I was at ease, and then it was just a case of going through the paces for the next three years and making sure I was all good.”

Northwich-born Amir who is now in his first year of his economics degree at Sheffield Hallam, told of his struggles fighting leukaemia especially when he developed pneumonia.

This left him bedridden for eight weeks, with exception of being able to go to his high school prom during this spell, which lifted his spirits.

He added: “Luckily, Alder Hey, great team over there, managed to get me out in time of my prom, so I was able to go to my high school prom which was nice.”

Amir continued: “I was back in hospital that night but at least I got to go out because by that point I think I had been in hospital for seven weeks straight, so it was getting a bit tough being in there for so long and not feeling the best.

“I was pretty under the weather. A week after that I was out and thankfully no more hiccups after that.”

Supporting his journey was Amir’s loving mum, Lisa, dad, Alborz and brother, Ali.

He told how there wasn’t a night where he was left alone in his hospital bed, and Lisa even left her job whilst Amir was in and out of hospital.

Several months in and Amir’s lymphatic system failed, leading to fatty liquid seeping into his chest cavity.

This meant a zero-fat diet which at first, largely consisted of dry toast.

He added: “With my dad we sat down and figured out what I could and couldn’t eat. I ended up eating egg white omelettes.

“He sat with me making some really nice meal plans. I got through that like I got through everything else. I wouldn’t have got through that as easily if it wasn’t for that and everyone else.”

Thanks to both Hartford Church of England Secondary School and Sir John Deane’s Sixth Form College, Amir was able to go onto to study his A-Levels despite him only being able to take one of his GCSEs from his hospital bed.

Five years on, and Amir is living cancer free in Sheffield, enjoying what he can in his first year of university after getting his physics, maths and economics A-Levels last year.

Whilst his first year has been plagued with a global pandemic, it hasn’t stopped him loving every minute of it.

Amir is now determined to enjoy life as it comes.

He said: “I’m just enjoying my time here. I think that is one thing I took away from it all is to just really enjoy what you’re doing right now. Try and live in the moment.

“When you go through stuff like that there are moments where I wondered ‘am I going to pull through?’ and to have those thoughts and to come out the other side, you learn to not take anything for granted.

“You realise how great everything is. I sound daft but you just want to live in the moment. I’m not thinking too far ahead in the future, I just want to finish my degree, enjoy my time here and get a good degree.”