December 13 2013 Latest news:
Friday, October 4, 2013
A youngster who promised to spread the word about teenage cancer as a tribute to his late friend has begun his tour of Norfolk schools.
Jamie De Bootman decided he wanted to warn others of the dangers after he lost his best friend Jessika Mae Prior to a rare form of the disease in March.
The 18-year-old visited sixth-formers at Norwich High School for Girls with representatives from the Teenage Cancer Trust – the first stop on a tour he hopes will eventually take in all 71 of Norfolk’s high schools.
“It was a brilliant start,” he said.
“I got up and told them my story, and about Jess, and from talking to them afterwards I could tell that they had taken all the information in.”
Mr De Bootman, of Tasburgh Close, King’s Lynn, said he did not want to frighten pupils, but that it was important to know the symptoms to watch out for and to visit their doctor with any concerns.
“I want them to know that if they notice a lump, a bump, a scratch or a bruise they can go to the doctor to get it checked out,” he said.
Mr De Bootman came up with the schools idea in partnership with his friend’s mother, Sharon Cleaver.
“Because I wasn’t there for Jess when she needed somebody, I’m now returning the favour,” he said.
An expert from the Teenage Cancer Trust, which supported Miss Prior during her treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, spoke about the symptoms, before Mr De Bootman explained the emotional effects of cancer on friends and family.
“I want to raise awareness so that no one else has to go through what she has,” he said.
Miss Prior, 19, a former student at Springwood High School, was just one of 30 young people a year found to have Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer which typically affects 16 to 24-year-olds.
She complained of pains in her knee, but because she played a lot of sport, doctors thought she had a sports injury and would soon recover. It took a year for her to be diagnosed, and she died on March 18.
Mr De Bootman hopes to have spoken at up to 40 schools by the end of this school year, and to complete his challenge the year after.
The car he will use for the tour has also been decorated in Teenage Cancer Trust livery.