DETERMINED Billy Riley is celebrating a ‘remarkable’ double-success after achieving a top A-Level grade on his way to beating cancer.
The 18-year-old, from Yoxall, picked up an A* for artwork completed as a hospital in-patient on a ‘draining’ course of chemotherapy.
He missed most of the school year at Denstone College during his six-month stay at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
However, after beating Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Billy is now looking forward to completing his studies.
He said: “I was given the all-clear at the end of May and the relief I felt then was incredible but, along with my A* grade, it’s just a great feeling.
“Six months of being in the same place, away from my friends, and dealing with chemo, which I’d describe as the worst hangover of your life day after day, was really tough.
“But I now feel like I can do anything and will complete the rest of my studies through home tutoring next year.
“I’m planning to go to university to read biochemistry at Bath University in 2014.”
Billy said his artwork, which culminated in a large-scale abstract piece depicting machinery and circuit boards, helped him keep his mind busy and became a ‘hobby’.
He said that, from the moment he was diagnosed in October, the fact he had cancer ‘didn’t sink in’.
He said: “I was diagnosed at Burton and, at first, didn’t understand what Hodgkin’s lymphoma was.
“It just felt completely surreal. You hear about these things happening to other people but don’t imagine them happening to you. I was in shock.
“My mum, dad and brothers, in all honesty, took the news worse than me and were totally devastated, but their support has been absolutely invaluable throughout all of this.
“I made some amazing friends in hospital. I was in a ward for 16-to-25-year-olds and you had an instant connection as everyone can directly relate to what you’re going through.”
A Denstone College spokesman said: “The whole college community was incredibly moved and delighted by Billy’s story.”