ABBEVILLE, La. (KLFY) — An Abbeville 5th grader battling brain cancer and his mother are speaking out about bullying at his school. They say since school has returned to in-person classes, he has become a target.
Aiden Paul was only 9-years-old when he underwent a 13-hour surgery to remove a tumor the size of an orange on his brain stem. It was later discovered through a biopsy that he had stage 4 brain cancer.
While the last three years of his life have been extremely tough, he is now facing another battle due to the cancer.
Aiden, now 12, was excited to start his first day of 5th grade at Herod Elementary in Abbeville. However, his first time back at school since being diagnosed with brain cancer has not been what he expected.
“People have been bullying me, hurting me, calling me names.”
“There were children pointing and staring. There were girls in the gym in the morning snickering and whispering while pointing at him,” Aiden’s mother, Stephiney Leleux Granger, told News Ten.
“The first few days, I just went to the principal and then I just started standing up for myself,” Aiden added.
He says standing up for himself came with backlash from bullies.
“The kid stood up, walked towards me and slammed me down to the ground. I thought I was going to die,” Aiden recalled.
“Aiden came home and basically told me that he didn’t feel like he deserved to live. That really hit me very hard after all the fighting that we’ve been doing. He’s literally been fighting for his life for years now,” his mother said.
Granger says she has been meeting with the school’s principal and teachers and together they have helped Aiden build an alliance. Some students even sent him heartfelt letters after learning what he has been going through.
“Hi, Aiden. Sorry about what you have gone through. It hurts me that you have to get bullied, but if someone bullies you, just tell me and I’ll talk to them and then I will tell a teacher,” one student wrote.
As September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Aiden’s mother also asked the school’s staff to educate students about Aiden’s struggles. She asks parents to educate their children as well, hoping this will lead to a change.
“I don’t feel like it’s fair that he is getting treated this way after what he’s been through, and I don’t want him to feel like he isn’t deserving of the life he fought for or that he isn’t deserving of being treated like a normal child,” she said.
Aiden also sent a powerful message to any other child experiencing bullying.
“Stay strong. Don’t let anyone break you down.”
News Ten did reach out to Herod Elementary School. The principal says, “We are extremely proud of our student who has so bravely fought the cancer that plagued his body, and we were excited for his return to school. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that he, along with all of our students, feel safe and valued.
In March of this year, Aiden’s doctors found seven more spots on his brain. Doctors are currently doing a biopsy. In October, Aiden and his mom will find out if the spots are progressing.
You can follow Aiden’s journey to recovery on their Facebook page.