Grays schoolboy Mikail is an inspiration

AN INSPIRATIONAL schoolboy from Grays has been honoured as part of a special awards show celebrating the courage of children diagnosed with cancer.

Mikail Hassan was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin lymphoma – cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphatic system that are important in helping to fight infection – in October 2020. Around 75 children in the UK are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma each year.

Mikail underwent six months’ chemotherapy, the first two of which were targeted at shrinking a tumour on his neck. It meant him losing his curly hair and being unable to walk properly, among other side effects.

Now, for the courage he showed throughout his treatment, he has received a Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People Star Award, in partnership with TK Maxx. Not only that, Mikail, who attends Thameside Primary School, has become the face of a poster to encourage more nominations so that other children’s bravery in facing cancer is recognised.

He was also one of 15 children from across the UK recognised during a virtual awards show. Hosted by children affected by the disease, it was filmed to highlight the impact cancer has on young lives and further encourage nominations for the accolade in the run up to Christmas.

The touching film sees the recipients deliver heart-warming acceptance speeches as well as ‘strut their stuff’ on a red carpet, and break out their best dance moves in celebration of the award.

As part of the ceremony, Mikail, with his curly locks restored, explains he was “happy and proud” to receive a Star Award at the end of chemo.

Famous faces, including singer and songwriter Pixie Lott, TV personalities Dr Ranj and Joe Tasker, and TikTok stars Flossie Clegg, Lewys Ball and Olivia Neill, also made appearances throughout to congratulate the award winners and send them messages of support.

On the tough treatment experienced by children like Mikail, Pixie, who grew up in Brentwood, said: “Every child who confronts cancer is a star in their own right. Cancer can have a devastating impact on young lives and what these children have to endure for months, and even years, is unimaginable. That’s why I’m proud to be supporting the Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People Star Awards and helping to put these amazing youngsters in the spotlight, where they belong.”

Mikail’s parents, Arzu and Halil, nominated him for the award. The family, also including Mikail’s brother, Emre, five, have watched the show at home in Tyrells Hall Close.

Arzu said: “The whole year has been really emotional and stressful. It’s hard looking back on it and believing what we’ve been through. We’re so positive, as a family, but it feels so weird.

“Mikail is now on three-monthly scans for five years, changing to six-monthly after that. He has been so brave and strong. He hasn’t once cried or complained about his cancer. He’s a very positive little boy. We’re very proud of him.

“His friends have been great and he showed them his Star Award, too. He wanted them to see his certificate and trophy as he was so pleased to have received it.

“Mikail keeps watching the film – all the time! He absolutely loves it. We all love it. I had tears in my eyes. It’s amazing.”

Around 170 children in the East of England are diagnosed with cancer every year*.

The Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People Star Awards are open to children under 18 who live in the UK and have been treated for cancer within the past five years.** There is no judging panel because the charity believes every child diagnosed with cancer deserves special recognition.

Every eligible child who is nominated receives a trophy, a £50 TK Maxx gift card, a T-shirt and a certificate signed by celebrities supporting the campaign. Their siblings also receive a certificate.

Michael Jarvis, Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People spokesperson for the East of England, said: “Mikail is a real star who has been through so much at such a young age. It’s been an absolute privilege to be able to celebrate his courage with a Star Award and to mark the occasion with a special show.

“Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults, from the types of cancer to the impact of treatment, and many youngsters may experience serious long-term side effects. That’s why we’re supporting dedicated research to ensure more children and young people survive cancer with a good quality of life.

“We’re urging people across the East of England to nominate inspirational children like Mikail now so that many more can receive the acknowledgement they so richly deserve.”

The Star Awards are run in partnership with TK Maxx, the biggest corporate supporter of Cancer Research UK’s work into children’s and young people’s cancers. Since 2004, the retailer has raised more than £40m for vital research to help improve survival and reduce the long-term side effects of treatments.

Cancer Research UK’s work on Hodgkin lymphoma has seen advances in chemotherapy and radiotherapy that mean nearly all children in the UK now survive this type of cancer.

To nominate a star visit cruk.org/starawards.

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