Friday 28 November 2014

Teen tumour survivor's plea for a 'transition year'

Elaine Keogh

Published 16/07/2014 | 02:30

Chloe Boyle with her mum, Tricia
Chloe Boyle with her mum, Tricia
Chloe during her treatment for bone cancer

A TEENAGE girl who has beaten cancer and managed to sit her Junior Certificate last month, despite missing over a year of schooling, has spoken of her disappointment at not getting to take part in transition year.

Friends of Chloe Boyle (15), from Drogheda, Co Louth, have begun a campaign to encourage her school, the Sacred Heart in Drogheda, to create an additional place on its transition year programme for her.

The Facebook page 'Make It 49' has gained thousands of supporters who want the school to increase the number of places in transition year from 48 to 49 so Chloe can be part of it.

"It would be great for me to catch up academically and gain my confidence again and make new friends. They have an American exchange trip which looks really interesting and you get a chance to learn new languages," said Chloe, who this month marked being one year cancer-free.

Her mum, Tricia, said she had not given up hope that her brave daughter would get to do transition year.

"She worked very hard to try and keep up with her studies so she could sit her Junior Cert last month. She deserves this chance to grow and mature and recover her self-esteem before beginning her Leaving Certificate study," she said.

Chloe was diagnosed in August 2012 with bone cancer behind her right knee. She had aggressive chemotherapy before undergoing major surgery to remove the tumour and the infected bone.

Doctors also did a bone graft, which left her wheelchair-bound for months and unable to attend school, as it was not wheelchair accessible.

Chloe, who wants to be a vet or physiotherapist, returned to school on crutches last September, after learning to walk again.

Her consultant, Dr Cormac Owens, said in a letter to her mum: 'I would strongly feel that the opportunity to participate in transition year would give Chloe the opportunity to re-establish herself both socially and academically back into school life.

'This would also reduce the stress and pressure Chloe would be exposed to during a time when we are still monitoring closely for disease recurrence.'

In an email to Chloe's mum, the school said: "It was the considered option of the three-teacher panel that Chloe was best suited to move into fifth year.

"The rationale for this was that fifth year would enable her to move forward in an academic context and in a structured and supportive environment. The unstructured nature of transition year would not be conducive to Chloe's academic development at this stage."

Tricia said: "It is now too late to enrol her in another school."

Mayor of Drogheda Kevin Callan said he would be meeting the school principal at the start of the next term.

The Department of Education added: "The management authority of each school is responsible for making decisions regarding the transition year programme. In schools where the year is not a compulsory one, it may be necessary to limit the number of students who can avail of it. In cases where restrictions apply, the procedure for allocating places is a matter for the school."

No response was received from the school when it was asked to comment.

Irish Independent

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