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Teenage cancer patient excels in class, on field

Published:Friday | August 22, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Kimani Francis

CANCER PATIENT Kimani Francis has defiantly refused to lead anything but a fulfilling life, excelling in both academics and sports.

Although Kimani is afflicted with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, the steely 16-year-old Wolmerian continues to make his presence felt in both the classroom and on the football field.

Kimani, who is forced to break his studies to travel to Florida in the United States of America for half-yearly medical check-ups, shrugged off his challenges to earn passes in eight subjects in the 2014 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations.

He copped ones in mathematics; English Language; additional maths; physics; principles of accounts; principles of business, and Spanish, but faltered somewhat in English Literature with the lower pass of three.

Instead of languishing in the perceived setbacks that trigger self-pity, Kimani appears to have used his challenge as motivation to excel.

"I am driven by the awareness that I will have to live to ensure that my family is okay and well," asserted Kimani. "They have been there for me and I want to be there for them when the times comes. I know it will be my turn," said the obviously confident teen.

Kimani said the fact that his parents must be cared for one day propels him each day to push harder and make the extra effort.

Equipped with more than a passing interest in business and physics, Kimani is headed to Wolmer's sixth form.

"He has a broad spectrum," observed Kimani's father, Gary Francis.

Kimani spent much of the latter part of the summer holidays at football camp in training for Wolmer's in preparation for the upcoming Manning Cup football season which kicks off in September.

He has already proven his worth on the field of play as he captained the Wolmer's team in the 2013/2014 football season to lift the coveted under-16 Colts trophy.

Born in the United States of Jamaican parentage - Kimani's father and mother, Gary and Stacey Francis, are proud, vigilant parents, and the teen appears to be an inspiration to his younger sister, Giani.

Diagnosed five years ago

Kimani's father told The Gleaner that his son was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 when he was only 11 years old.

Hodgkin's disease (Hodgkin's lymphoma) is a type of lymphoma, a cancer that starts in white blood cells called lymphocytes that form part of the immune system. It has been found that both children and adults can develop Hodgkin's disease.

Asked how his son copes on a daily basis, Francis sighed, "Through the grace of God and support of family and friends."

Notwithstanding the challenges, Kimani parents are happy that their son remains, for the most part, an upper-tier student and the recipient of a blue ribbon that comes with letters of commendation at Wolmer's.

"He still has challenges, but is relaxed, composed, and nothing seems to bother him," said Francis. "But as parents, we have to keep in touch ... based on the challenges he has been through, there is still need for vigilance," he added.

gary.spaulding@gleanerjm.com