A-levels: Worthing teenager with cancer who took her exams in hospital celebrates incredible results

Talisa-Mae Marsh celebrated getting two A*s. Pictured after finding out her results in Southampton Hospital
Talisa-Mae Marsh celebrated getting two A*s. Pictured after finding out her results in Southampton Hospital

A Worthing teenager is celebrating some incredible A-level results after taking her exams while in hospital during treatment for cancer.

In March, Talisa-Mae Marsh was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia two weeks before her 18th birthday and has been undergoing intensive treatment in Southampton Hospital.

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She sat her exams in hospital - and now, she is celebrating getting two A*s in biology and geography, making her dreams of becoming a dentist one step closer to reality.

Speaking from her hospital bed, she said she got her results via email from her sixth form - Our Lady of Sion school in Gratwicke Road, Worthing - and marked the news by having 'cake and fizz' with her family and the doctors and nurses who are looking after her.

She said she was 'absolutely over the moon', adding: ‘I’m really surprised and pleased with my results! I was not expecting the grades I achieved.

"I was determined to sit my A-levels because I had worked so hard over the last two years and did not want to let treatment stop me from achieving what I deserved. It also gave me something to focus on.

"I would say to another student in my position to still follow their dreams despite the circumstances because anything is possible if you put your mind to it."

Talisa, from Offington, was diagnosed after her friends commented on how many bruises she had. She spoke to her mother Jacqui, and they saw her GP where she had blood tests.

Later that day, she was told she had to go straight to Worthing Hospital and was transferred to Southampton the next day, where she got the diagnosis.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia is an aggressive form of blood cancer where abnormal cells in your bone marrow grow uncontrollably and do not develop properly into mature blood cells.

Because of the news, Talisa decided to take her chemistry A-level next year - but can now apply for dentistry this year.

Talisa started treatment straight away. The first round of chemotherapy took six weeks and she was in isolation for much of that time.

She said: "My school have been really supportive, I haven’t been back since I was diagnosed as I’ve not been well enough, but I’ve seen my friends.

"I asked the doctor if I’d be able to do my exams and he said definitely not, which was really upsetting to hear.

"But after the second round of chemotherapy I was feeling good so I decided that I was going to do them, despite what he’d said.”

While Talisa was receiving treatment she was supported by CLIC Sargent, a cancer charity working with young people.

Talisa’s young adult community worker Beth worked with the school in Southampton Hospital to arrange for Talisa to be able to take her geography exam in her hospital room, and her school made it possible for her to do her biology exam at home.

Her proud mother Jacqui, father Duncan and sister Petrina said: "Talisa just keeps on amazing us. We are all incredibly proud of what she has achieved.

"She has been so strong and determined through everything that has been thrown at her over the last six months.

"She managed to sit two A-levels while receiving chemo which in itself was incredible. But to achieve the results she got is outstanding.

"As a family words can not describe how proud of her we all are."

Dr Simon Orchard, headteacher of Our Lady of Sion, said: "Talisa’s sudden illness came as a huge shock to us all.

"Despite undergoing treatment, she has performed to the highest level during her examinations.

"This is testament to her determination and resilience. We are all incredibly proud of her and look forward to seeing her at our prizegiving ceremony."

Earlier this year, Worthing Swimming Club, which Talisa has attended for 13 years, held two events to raise money for her at the Splashpoint Centre in Brighton Road, Worthing, raising thousands of pounds.