Turning to his childhood heroes to lift his spirits as he battles a malignant brain tumour, Ben Clifton wants to inspire other young people diagnosed with cancer to stay positive.
His story was shown on ITV News Central on Friday 6th June.
The 17-year-old from Peterborough was fifteen and about to sit his GCSEs when he first felt the pain in his cheek.
‘They weren’t able to operate as the tumour is near many nerves and a major blood vessel,’ Ben explains.
‘When I was given the news everyone’s first thought was death. But I waited until they said they could do something else, which helped me think positively.
‘As I was having chemo I saw some comics and it took me back to my childhood. It helped distract me and made me think of good things, instead of thinking the worst.’
Partly inspired by the mask he has to wear during radiotherapy, which features in the broadcast piece, Ben created his own comic book superhero.
With Fixers, he’s turned this into an animated music video - telling his story in the style of a rap.
Watch 'Ben's Guide To Beating Teenage Cancer' below and click here to read more about it.
‘My radiotherapy mask protects me from radiation,’ he says.
‘Some people find it quite claustrophobic. I see it just as wearing a mask, thinking of superheroes, and that’s my way of dealing with it.
‘I’m using my comic book heroes to encourage young people who have cancer to stay positive.’
Dr Kanchan Rege, lead for teenage and young adult cancers at Peterborough City Hospital, appears in the TV film in support of Ben’s campaign.
‘It’s very difficult for teenagers and young adults to receive a diagnosis of a malignancy of cancer,’ she explains.
‘There’s no doubt that if you believe a treatment is going to work and you’re positive about receiving the treatment, you make your own journey and the journey of the people who care for you much, much easier.’
Ben adds: ‘We’ve made the animated rap video funny so people keep smiling.
‘If you’re smiling, it keeps others going – your family and friends.
‘They will think, “I’ve got to stay strong for him because he’s fighting it” and “I’ll fight it with him”.
‘I’d tell people in my situation to find something they like – find a hero – and never give up.’