Forest Gate teacher returns to school a year after being given weeks to live
- Credit: JPF
If the doctors were to be believed, Sham Uddin wouldn’t be here now.
Diagnosed with incurable stomach cancer a year ago, Forest Gate Community School’s assistant headteacher was given weeks to live.
But a year on, she is still fighting – and returned to her job at the start of the school year.
She said: “I should be in a hospice preparing to die but instead I have an office, a classroom and a load of pupils depending on me. I can’t let them down.
“If you listen to the doctors then, no, I shouldn’t be here right now. But I am and if I can teach one more child, change one more life, then it is all worth it.”
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Sham’s dedication to her students saw her nominated for a Jack Petchey Award for outstanding leadership, which she received at the O2 earlier this month.
She found out about it while lying in a hospital bed, and said: “I was overwhelmed. It was an incredible feeling that even though I wasn’t at the school they still valued me.”
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Sham, 38, also praised the support of the Forest Lane, Forest Gate school’s headteacher, Simon Elliott.
She said: “[He] puts people before anything else. He sees me not as someone who is dying or has a disability and who doesn’t have value but as someone he needs to help make this the best school it can be.”
Simon added: “Sham isn’t just a one in a million teacher, she is a one in a million human being.
“She has taught the young people something that no textbook could ever teach them – about indomitable spirit, the capacity for love and joy in the face of true adversity and most of all giving a purpose to life.
“She will stay here for as long as she can because I need her, these children need her and the school needs her.”