Leith Academy pupil to carry Commonwealth baton

Leon, with his Cancer Research Little Star award is joined by his sister Rosie.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Leon, with his Cancer Research Little Star award is joined by his sister Rosie. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Brave teenager Leon Rendle is preparing to take part in the biggest sporting event to grace Scotland in his lifetime, as he carries the Queen’s Baton ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The Leith Academy pupil has been selected to carry the baton in a relay which will see him show off the symbol of the Commonwealth Games before the event gets under way in ­Glasgow.

Leon, 14, who is now in remission from Ewing’s sarcoma – a type of tumour found in the bone and soft tissue – said it was a “real honour”.

He said: “My school nominated me for it, I knew nothing about it. It was a real surprise and felt great when they told me. I’m really looking forward to it but it’s a bit daunting at the same time.

“It hasn’t been pleasant what I’ve been through this year but the staff at Sick Kids were all really nice, which helped.”

Leon, from Lochend, was diagnosed with the disease when surgeons at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary removed his appendix.

The keen footballer and Hibs fan had been ­feeling light-headed and had complained of a sore thigh.

However, when the pain got considerably worse, his mum Nicola took him to hospital, where appendicitis was diagnosed.

It was during the operation to remove his appendix that a tumour on Leon’s bowel was discovered and removed.

She said: “Leon was only 13 years old at the time and was really worried and upset.

He asked the consultant at the Sick Kids Hospital if he was going to die.

“The consultant was really reassuring, though, and told him that, although his cancer was very rare, they were going to be able to make him better.”

A biopsy from Leon’s stomach told doctors that there were still signs of the disease in his body and he was given ­chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. The treatment was successful and Leon has been in remission since October.

His determination to beat the disease has also earned him recognition from Cancer Research UK.

Nicola and dad James, both 41, and sister Chloe, put him forward to receive a “Little Star” award which acknowledges the unique challenges faced by youngsters who encounter cancer.

Nicola added: “He’s been so positive and strong throughout all the heartache. We wanted to give him a Little Star Award because it would be something to cheer him up.”

Leon is yet to find out where he will carry the baton, which is currently on a Commonwealth tour, travelling around the world before going to ­Glasgow for the opening ­ceremony on July 23, 2014.

Headteacher Jack Simpson said he had asked staff for nominations for the Queen’s Baton bearer and Leon was top.

He said: “This is in recognition of Leon’s perseverance through adversity and to pay tribute to that. As the school’s motto is “Persevere” it is ­particularly apt.”

Rare condition that mainly attacks the bones

THIS type of cancer attacks the bones and most commonly occurs in the long bones, ribs, pelvis and spine.

Fewer than 30 children in the UK develop Ewing’s sarcoma each year.

It usually occurs in the teenage years, and is more common in boys. Although Ewing’s sarcoma is a type of bone cancer, it can also occur very rarely in the soft tissues. This is called extraosseous Ewing’s sarcoma.

Another type of Ewing’s sarcoma is a primitive neuroectodermal tumour (PNET). These can be found in either the bone or soft tissue. The development of Ewing’s sarcoma may be related in some way to times of rapid bone growth, which may explain why more cases are seen in teenagers.