Now 19 and partially blind, Theo was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma (cancer in both eyes) aged two-and-a-half. Following treatment, doctors regained some of his sight but aged four, Theo was again diagnosed with cancer and his parents were told he only had a few days to live. Following treatment, however, the tumours stopped growing but he requires regular hospital admission and lives permanently with the fear the cancer will return.
Meanwhile, Theo is the London representative on the UK’s Youth Parliament with a focus on reducing knife crime. He was recruited to the Youth Advisory Forum, the first ever youth civil service body, and is the youngest person ever to have contributed to a No. 10 Cabinet meeting.
As an inpatient at BARTS Hospital in 2014, Theo realised how little say young people have in their own treatment and care so co-founding the BARTS YES FORUM – Youth Empowerment Squad - which now exists across the BARTS Trust, set up to help improve the experience of young patients.
During the Coronavirus Pandemic, he is providing peer support across the five BARTS hospital sites in London to those aged 11-19 concerned about being in hospital or scared to attend hospital appointments at the current time.
He also wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for better provision during lockdown for young people with special educational needs who, he says, are at risk of suffering mental health problems and who tend to be digitally disadvantaged due to lack of access to modern technology.
Theo is a lay member of NICE on their Complex Needs and Disability Committee producing guidelines for key-workers. He is on the NHS England Youth Forum, representing the views of local young people on a national platform and Youth Representative for Health Education England on their Patient Advisory Forum.
Caron Heyes and Lewis Ayre, who are investigating a possible case of delayed diagnosis of retinoblastoma on Theo's behalf, said it was absolutely incredible what Theo has achieved and the impact he has had on the lives of young people living with debilitating illnesses.
"I don’t need a reason to do things, I need a reason not to", Theo said. "I hope this award inspires other people to try and have the same outlook... Seeing the tiring work of NHS frontline workers from the youngest age, I learnt from their determination. Extremely grateful, I've tried my hardest to help improve healthcare for all. While a hospital inpatient in 2014, young people around me were begging to be heard but weren't being listened to.
"The significance of this work lies in the principle that healthcare that is consistently patient-centred will generate a more comfortable and reliable health service. This can only happen effectively if those with the true experience can speak out about how adjustments can be made to consider all."
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