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A little champ, even after death

/ August 11, 2017 /

One look at six-year-old Bradley Lowery’s smiling face, and you’d never think he was battling the deadly disease, Cancer. Hailing from Blackhall Colliery, England, Bradley was barely 2 years old when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of Cancer.

A Cancer that is commonly found in the adrenal glands, neuroblastoma is the third most common type of childhood Cancer after leukaemia, and brain and central nervous system tumours. Neuroblastoma develops from nerve cells called neuroblasts, found in an embryo or foetus. Mostly affecting children under the age of 5, common symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, bone pain, a lump in the chest, neck or abdomen, or a bluish lump under the skin. Neuroblastoma usually starts from one of the adrenal glands but can also develop in the chest, neck, abdomen, or spine. With disease progression, it spreads to other body organs like the skin, bone, bone marrow and lymph nodes.

When the Cancer was first diagnosed in 2012, Bradley was 18 months old. He developed a large tumour above his kidney which was exerting huge pressure on major organs and arteries. However, after surgery and intensive chemotherapy sessions, Bradley pulled through and went into remission. Things were looking fine until the Cancer made a comeback in July 2016. His condition took a turn for the worse when doctors discovered a new tumour in his neck and lungs.
Bradley spent his 6th birthday in the hospital. The family had to cancel his Disneyland holiday in wake of the findings. A few days later, doctors revealed he was receiving palliative care, and in December 2016 they said the Cancer was terminal. Through all the rigorous rounds of surgery, chemotherapy, gruelling physical and emotional stress, Bradley remained his smiling self.

An ardent football lover, Bradley was a Sunderland fan and also a little mascot at home matches for the team. He also led the England team out at Wembley in March. Bradley shared a close bond with Sunderland and England striker, Jermain Defoe. The duo spent quality time while Bradley was fighting his disease in the hospital. There were nights when he cuddled up to Defoe and fell asleep peacefully. At the Wembley in March, Bradley lead England out onto the pitch holding hands with Defoe. Defoe was truly Bradley’s best mate.

When the doctors announced that Bradley was no longer responsive to treatment, his family said that all the unused money raised for Bradley’s treatment, would go into the Bradley Lowery Foundation to support other children fighting the disease. After a long heart-rending fight against childhood Cancer neuroblastoma, Bradley passed away in the arms of his family on July 7.

The little boy had a superhero-themed farewell for the brave hero that he was. His funeral was held on July 14 at St Joseph’s R C Church in Blackhall Colliery, where Bradley was baptised 6 years ago. People dressed up as Bradley’s favourite superheroes—including Batman, Spiderman, and Wonder Woman—and greeted mourners with a salute outside the church. As Bradley’s coffin was carried into the church, the 6-year-old’s voice was heard in a recording, singing the final lines of Charlie Puth’s One Call Away, ‘Superman got nothing on me, I'm only one call away’.

Also, to honour Bradley’s love for football, his family had requested mourners to come wearing different coloured football jerseys, wanting to give out the message that Cancer has no colours. True to the message, people turned up in different team jerseys, keeping aside club rivalries, all in an effort to give Bradley the sendoff that he deserved. Bradley's coffin was decorated with a Sunderland crest and the Stadium of Light banner, in a beautiful red-and-white tribute to the football fan.

Bradley’s bravery and heartbreaking fight against Cancer was one that touched the hearts of millions all over the world. He fought till the very end, with all that he had in him. Here’s to hoping the little champ is smiling just the same wherever he is.

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