Brain cancer sufferer fighting for cure during senior year
SENIOR year is hard enough for anyone.
For Kieran McLeod, now on his second go at Year 12, it's been one hell of a roller coaster.
He was told in 2017 he had between two and five years left to live after being diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 13.
Surgery to remove the tumour in February was a success, essentially removing his "expiry date", but a scan last week delivered another setback.
"We got the results back on Monday which said there might still be something left in the head that's growing back," he said.
"So we're back to watch and wait."
He will have another scan in November after graduation. He has a difficult final quartet of subjects of chemistry, physics, maths C and English standing in the way.
Since the diagnosis, the 18-year-old Bremer State High School student has approached life with positivity and humour.
Kieran strives to bring "light into the darkness", especially for other brain cancer sufferers.
Last year, he organised the first Ipswich Walk 4 Brain Cancer after being inspired by the sea of people dressed in purple who supported the Brisbane event.
The inaugural Ipswich event attracted 200 people and raised more than $15,000 for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.
"You hear all the statistics that it's so rare but it's not, it's just so common," he said.
"People don't talk about it. When you see these big crowds of people, you basically remember that you're not alone fighting this thing. It's just incredible."
It has been an eventful few months for the tenacious teenager; he was named official ambassador for the foundation and he was selected as Ipswich's Young Citizen of the Year at the 2019 Australia Day Awards.
His mission to eradicate brain cancer by raising money for research is not a burden he can carry alone.
The second iteration is planned for September 15. Kieran wants people to get involved in the 5km walk at Limestone Park, which includes entertainment, raffles and the chance to win a weekend getaway at Tin Can Bay for those who sign up early.
"My undying and almost annoying optimism has been forged out of this experience," he laughed.
"It definitely shapes your world view when you get given, at 16, an expiry date pretty much of 22."
"I've always been quite a happy person."
He knows others his age have not been as lucky.
One young man who he met in hospital, who he was looking forward to seeing at a foundation dinner, was represented at the event by his mother.
"I've spoken to a few (around my age) just online, on Facebook, from all around the world," he said.
"I've spoken to them and shared stories and experiences. I always end on that note of optimism and positivity to share around to all the other sufferers. That's always been important to me."
His father Joe said it was not easy to watch his son go through it.
"The treatments they're worse than actually any of the symptoms he's had from the disease so far," he said.
"It takes its toll. He hasn't given up hope on doing that little bit more and giving back."
For more information and to get involved, visit here.