A 12-year-old from Stourport who bravely battled cancer is using his passion for sport to help other young patients at Birmingham Children’s Hospital on their rehabilitation journeys.
Joey Kehoe, a pupil at Hagley Catholic High School, was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was aged four after complaining of headaches regularly in the morning and having problems walking.
Shortly after his diagnosis, he was admitted to the Children’s Hospital where he underwent surgery to remove the tumour. The specialist Neuro-oncology team then discovered the tumour was cancerous meaning a year-long course of intense treatment was needed.
This included 33 rounds of radiotherapy, chemotherapy lasting more than eight months and additional surgery.
Dad Darren, a Quantity Surveyor, 48 said:
“It came as a real shock when we first found out, but Joey has always been a strong little boy and we were with him every step of the way. It was a long and arduous journey, with lots of tough days, but we’re so proud that he’s made it out of the other side and is now doing so well.”
Thanks to Joey’s strength, determination and the expert help of the team that cared for him, he completed treatment in December 2011 and is now doing well - returning to the hospital for twice yearly check-ups and scans.
A few months after, the family noticed Joey still had problems with his co-ordination, balance and confidence. Darren and Kathryn, Joey’s mum, found the Young Gloves Karate club in Kidderminster and since taking up the martial art in 2013 their son has gone from strength-to-strength.
“The karate has been invaluable in his rehabilitation. He had some issues following his treatment, as you would expect, but sport has really helped him to improve his co-ordination skills and his core strength.
“But most importantly, it’s helped give back his confidence and self-esteem. You would never know he’d been through what he has, and he’s so passionate about the things he does. We can’t recommend sports and exercise enough as a way of aiding recovery – it does amazing things.”
The Neuro-oncology team at the Children’s Hospital runs special ‘Sport for All’ events for the young people they care for with brain and spinal tumours, which aim to give patients who experience varied physical and cognitive issues as a result of their conditions a taste of accessible sport.
After being inspired by the Paralympic Games, Senior Neuro-Oncology Nurse Specialist, Sharon Beardsmore and her team, Advanced Physiotherapist, Jane Guest and Occupational Therapists Alison Cooper and Sian Phillips, decided to begin hosting the events, which have been running since April 2017.
“It’s so important for young people to be active, especially children with injuries like those we see.
“Many of the families we care for are unaware of the benefits of sport and the positive effect that being physically active can have on a child’s recovery. As a team, what we try to do is give them the information they need to incorporate sports in to their everyday lives.”
Joey, now a brown belt, was a very special guest at the latest session, who, along with his Sensei, Justin Thomas and members of his karate club, volunteered their own time to help deliver a ‘boxercise’ class inspired by the ancient martial art.
Joey said: “I hope that showing children like me that you can go on to do the things other young people can do inspires them to continue exercising. I love karate and it’s helped me to get to where I am today, and I’m happy I could be involved in the session with my club.”
Sharon added: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to the whole of the Young Gloves Karate club for generously volunteering their own time to come in and help inspire our young patients. Joey is a perfect example of exercise being a valuable tool in rehabilitation, and we’re so pleased we could see him in action at the latest session and look forward to hosting more in the near future.”