Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Calabar’s Cornel in new battle with tumours

Published:Saturday | August 22, 2020 | 12:00 AMJonielle Daley/Gleaner Writer
Cornel Grant, 16, before undergoing a successful surgery to remove tumours from his spine on Wednesday.
Cornel Grant, 16, before undergoing a successful surgery to remove tumours from his spine on Wednesday.

Sixteen-year-old Calabar High schoolboy Cornel Grant is a fighter. And he’s determined to emerge out of another war with his ailing body yet again.

Cornel, who returned to classes in January after a two-year hiatus while battling a brain tumour, underwent a successful surgery at the University Hospital of the West Indies on Wednesday after being admitted four days earlier.

His return to classes seven months ago drew rousing applause from his schoolmates who formed a guard of honour to welcome him back.

After noticing an odd limp, his mother, Annmarie Benjamin, took him to the doctor. A gut-wrenching MRI result showed more tumours at the back of his neck and on his lower spine.

Tears streamed down Benjamin’s face as she recalled the incident that forced her to rush him to hospital.

“He started vomiting, and when he was talking, he was talking with a slur,” she told The Gleaner.

Despite Benjamin’s pessimism about the surgery, it was Cornel who encouraged her to sign the documents.

“He is better than me, you know. I break down a lot and he is saying to me, ‘Mom, don’t cry. I’m going to be okay,’” she muttered, her eyes welling up.

The family said that Cornel has displayed strength amid his ordeal with cancer but has always remained jovial. Cornel, they say, is “full of faith” and constantly has his Bible by his side.

“Him never have a dull moment. No care how him sick him no tell himself say him sick,” another relative who gave her name as Mel told The Gleaner.

“What he went through, I don’t think I could manage that,” she added.

His mother said that if he did not undergo surgery, he would not be able to walk and would struggle with other basic bodily functions.

Though he may not be returning to school in October, the aspiring neurosurgeon is still hopeful for a change of fortune.

“One of my doctors took very good care of me and I want to follow in her footsteps,” Cornel said.

In fighting this latest battle, his advice to his family offers them some comfort: “Don’t worry. I’m going to be fine. ... God has my back.”