For Orpington teenager Lewis Kelly, one of the young people involved in recent trials – the arrival of the AV1 robot has been a game-changing development in his treatment journey.
In 2013 the world of Lewis Kelly and his family was turned upside-down when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) at just 8 years old. He spent the next three years and nine months in the Tiger Ward, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich receiving treatment.
Lewis finally got his life back as a fun, energetic 11-year-old once treatment ended – until 15 months later when the family received the heart-shattering news that he had relapsed.
Today, aged 14, Lewis is 14 months into another two and a half years programme of treatment. Yet again, he’s putting up the bravest fight.
Lewis and his family have faced up to the traumatic upheaval of treatment twice – with constant back and forth between home and hospital and fluctuating levels of physical health making routine and normality almost impossible to sustain.
During his first lengthy treatment period, Lewis’ absences from school were extensive leading to very significant gaps in his education. The highly unpredictable nature of a patient’s circumstances rules out home tuition for most Oncology children like Lewis. As a bright and highly engaged student, he flourished when he returned to school – catching up academically and working his way back up into the top sets. But, in 2017, relapse and the subsequent regime of rigorous treatment deprived Lewis of his education once again. Lewis hasn’t been back to school since September 2017.
Underneath he’s just a normal 14-year-old boy
Heading into his teenage years, Lewis’ life revolves around friends and socialising, having fun and exploring his independence. It’s a time of formative experiences and developmental milestones physically, cognitively and socially. But when cancer and treatment eclipse so many aspects of everyday life, oncology children find themselves cut off from their world of school, friendships, structure and routine at a time in their development when they need these influences most.
Introducing the AV1 Robot to Lewis
The Chartwell Cancer Trust introduced the AV1 Robot to Lewis and his family last year. For Lewis and his family, the impact of this technology cannot be overstated allowing Lewis to reclaim his education, his friendships, his independence and his identity. Lewis’ mother Kerri recounts: “Thanks to the robot, Lewis is now able to keep up with his core subjects – it’s incredible to see him tune into class on the move between appointments and immerse himself in his lessons during check-ups and chemotherapy sessions.
“With major academic milestones on the horizon such as mock GCSEs, this robot is making all the difference to Lewis’ daily reality but also to his future. “The ability to not only take back control of his education but also to reconnect with his friends and life beyond the illness is proving to be transformative. “Making his friends laugh at the push of a button, sitting next to his best mate in class again – these little details mean the world to my son. He’s loving the attention he gets back at school – the kids go crazy for technology and this robot’s definitely got the cool factor.”