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Young Citizen: Barkingside girl Hania, 11, starts school ‘with a smile’ despite ongoing chemotherapy

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 October 2017

Young Citizen nominee Hania Akhtar

Young Citizen nominee Hania Akhtar

Archant

An 11-year-old Barkingside girl has just started secondary school despite having had chemotherapy for the last seven years to tackle an aggressive tumour.

Hania Akhtar, of Duke Road, was diagnosed with a form of fibromatosis – a soft tissue tumour – when she was just four years old.

The growth began near her kidney, and has gradually stretched over other internal organs.

Hania spent the next year in Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, undergoing intensive chemotherapy before being allowed to return home.

Now starting Year 7 at Oaks Park High School, she has been in constant treatment ever since her diagnosis, with only two six month gaps in chemotherapy.

Hania is this week’s Recorder/Rotary Club Young Citizen Award nominee, for keeping going at her studies with a fantastic attitude, despite her illness.

The award aims to recognise the achievements of the brilliant young people in Redbridge.

Hania’s dad Fahim Akhtar, 38, said that while her condition has “improved” over time as her body has adapted to the treatment, it still severely impacts her life.

This particularly affects her schoolwork and attendance.

Hania told the Recorder: “Sometimes it’s really hard in lessons because you’ve missed a lot of work.”

She regularly has to field questions as to “why you’re not in school”.

Inspite of this Hania managed to start at Oaks Park, Oaks Lane, Newbury Park, last month.

Teacher Yvette Corton, who nominated her for this award, said: “She is determined to overcome any obstacle to make sure she comes in even for a short time.

“She is always happy with a beautiful smile on her face and a great sense of humour.”

Fahim described his daughter as “amazing”, and wanted to thank the staff at GOSH for teaching Hania how to deal day to day with her condition.

She says she keeps going to school because “I really like learning”, particularly her favourite subject, science.

The award is run by the Recorder in conjunction with Redbridge Rotary Club, and sponsored by The Exchange shopping centre, Ilford, which will provide each monthly winner with a £30 gift card.

The Young Citizen of the Year will be crowned at next year’s Mayor’s Community Awards.

You can nominate any person from Redbridge, as long as they are under 25, by emailing ralph.blackburn@archant.co.uk.

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