After a four year battle little Joseph Devaney’s cancer is in remission, reporter Gemma Sherlock finds out more from the delighted family.
A six-year-old who spent most of his life battling leukaemia is now all smiles after pulling through the illness.
Joseph Devaney, from Morecambe, became so ill he was rushed to hospital in an ambulance.
The brave boy was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia after months of missed symptoms at multiple doctor appointments.
We set up a campaign to follow Joseph’s journey, offering support to his parents, Lindsay and Leon, with the community also raising thousands for the family.
Now four years on we return to the Devaneys, who are enjoying the many milestones their little boy has finally reached.
“Joseph is doing amazingly well,” said mum Lindsay. “It is amazing to know that he won the fight.”
On May 22 2017, a single bell rang through the corridors at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where Joseph received treatment.
The bell everyone wanted to ring finally chimed – the bell that finalised treatment.
“That was the ultimate milestone,” said Lindsey, 37.
“At the end of the treatment we rang that bell on Ward 84, it was an honour.
“It’s what every parent looks forward to, nobody is allowed to touch it, it’s sacred.”
The family also held a party at their new home on Slyne Road, Lancaster, when Joseph finished his last course of chemotherapy.
After being told to prepare for the worst the family never expected Joseph to come this far, especially seeing him play football for local team Westgate Wanderers.
“When he was taken into the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and diagnosed my first words were: How long has he got to live?’” said dad Leon, 36.
“Now here we are four years later, we couldn’t be more proud.”
“The team means so much to him, they are like his little family,” said Lindsay. “It is something we never thought we would see him doing, even having firm friends, it’s lovely.”
Last year Joseph also attended his first football match at Anfield, to watch his beloved Liverpool Football Club.
“Joseph still gets very tired, sometimes he will just want to have a rest but it doesn’t stop him from giving it his all,” said Lindsay.
During his treatment Joseph was on a course of daily chemotherapy and steroid medication.
The Great Wood Primary School pupil even underwent a four-hour operation to save his life after his bowel had perforated.
He is currently in remission and is attending Royal Manchester’s Children Hospital every 12 weeks for a check-up.
The family have been told he could relapse in the first two years of finishing treatment.
“It is quite a worry really,” said Lindsay.
“He will come out of school looking pale and I will immediately panic, we are watching every little thing.”
Looking back on his journey, Lindsay admits there were many challenges.
“The hardest part is having your superhero win the battle when there are so many children left behind who have fought equally hard, maybe even harder,” she said.
“It’s hard not being able to help others, you feel guilty celebrating your milestones because there are so many parents missing their children.”
Leon and Lindsay, who have six children between them, are thankful for the support they have received.
Daughters Caitlyn, 15, and Amelia, 12, have been a huge help in particular, especially when Eliza, two, was born.
Lindsay said: “They have been through so much and they have turned out to be such wonderful, caring children.
“We are lucky, we have amazing friends and family.”
Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
ALL is the most common type of cancer in children.
It is the 11th most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for 3 per cent of all deaths from cancer.
In 2014, there were 4,584 deaths from leukaemia in the UK, according to Cancer Research.