He gained 15 GCSE passes (11 A*’s and 4 A’s), played Academy football as a goalkeeper for Sheffield Wednesday FC and was captain of his local cricket team.
Most people in his situation would have immersed themselves in self-pity and resentment - not Alexander. Following his diagnosis, he commenced a schedule of intensive chemotherapy treatment in September 2008 which was only completed at the end of April 2009. In all, Alexander underwent 18 chemotherapy separate treatments each incurring 4 or 5 overnight stays in Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield. This combined with stays at Birmingham Royal Orthopaedic Hospital for the operation to remove the tumour from his leg and other stays for physiotherapy meant that he was hospitalised for over 85 days during his final sixth form year.
Initially, the consultant at Weston Park Cancer Hospital had strongly suggested that he seriously consider 'writing off the academic year', with a view to completing his final school year 12 months later. However, with help from his school (Wickersley School & Sports College), Alexander decided to commit to completing his A Levels in the current school year (2009). This mostly meant continuing his studies by self-learning and then catching up in school whenever possible. Alexander even had to take some of his A level exams whilst staying on hospital wards. These unbelievable efforts were rewarded when in the summer of 2009 he achieved 5 Grade A's in all of the A Levels that he set out to take. He also won a place at the hallowed halls of St John's College, Cambridge University to study Spanish and Russian. At this point Alex was in remission and his story broke into the media - he was interviewed on Look North and Calendar and his story was spread across numerous newspapers including the Daily Mail and News of the World. His message on bone cancer will have been heard by thousands and his determination was inspiration to not only those that knew him but many others who read about his achievements. It was not surprising that his achievements were also rewarded by his winning a Holbeck Charitable Trust Award for outstanding academic excellence for youngsters in Yorkshire and even more impressively winning the Achievement in Education Award at the Yorkshire Young Achievers event in November 2009.
Unfortunately, for the second time, Alexander's world was turned upside down the day before he was due to commence studies at Cambridge University in October 2009 when he was told that the cancer had returned but this time to his lungs. Although further chemotherapy was prescribed, it was evident that Alexander would not be able to matriculate at university in 2010. This was not to say that Alexander had given up hope of one day taking up his place at Cambridge. Despite the further regime of chemotherapy, he continued with his love for Spanish by helping out in lessons at his old school and reading the texts he had acquired in advance of his intended studies. Alexander also fulfilled his aspiration to travel to Madrid to practice his Spanish in this culturally rich city and despite being in pretty much constant pain from walking, he will have made his old Spanish teacher proud by visiting the Geurnica in the Musao Reina Sofia -it was his Spanish teacher that had stimulated his love for not only the language, but also Spanish history and culture.
Unfortunately, after Christmas 2009 Alexander's health deteriorated further, but never one to dwell on his own situation, Alexander was at the forefront of a number of charity fundraising events, raising many thousands of pounds for the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit at Weston Park and more recently the Bone Cancer Research Trust. The latter was a particular passion for Alexander as he was particularly disappointed that outcomes from bone cancer had not significantly improved over the last 15 years.
Alexander was a truly inspirational individual as demonstrated by the flood of tributes received to his Facebook page by his friends and all that had known him. These friends have been inspired to continue fundraising activities in Alexander's memory and a dedicated account has been set up in his name with the Bone Cancer Research Trust.
In March of 2010 we also found out that the charitable organisation Impact Living, an organisation that provides homes for young people with housing difficulties including those with cancer, have decided to name a new home in Darnall Sheffield, the 'Alexander James Albiston House', in his memory. Sadly he will not be there to see this open.
It was not so much for his academic achievement against the background of adversity that Alexander will be forever remembered, but his lack of self-pity and resentment and his absolute determination to live life to the full. There is no doubt that Alexander packed a lot into his short life and for this reason his life will continue to be celebrated and not mourned.
Alexander James Albiston died 13th March 2010, aged 18 years.