An 11-year-old Preston schoolboy has lost his fight for life - on the sixth anniversary of his mother’s death.
Joel Shaw died in Derian House Children’s Hospice after battling a rare form of cancer.
The Longridge High School pupil, from Grimsargh, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma after discovering a lump on his arm in October 2018.
This week his dad David paid tribute to an “incredibly loved” son and brother who had lived a “short but full” life and was a “demon footballer”.
He said: “He’s not in pain any more, but I think it was no coincidence he chose the day and date his mum went. It’s quite a thing, all the months he’s been ill it came down to that day. We take a bit of comfort in that. We just think he’s gone to his mum - now he’ll be well looked after.”
David said the day of their son’s death was very similar to the day Joel’s mum Julie died - cold, very windy and lashing with rain.
“Everything was exactly the same down to the same date,” he said.
David added: “Joel made more of a mark in the 11 years than some people ever do in their life.
“He was just so popular. He was so smart as well, so academically clever, witty, popular and sporty. He could have been anything he wanted to be.
“He spoke so openly - some of the nurses were lost for words some of the time. When he found out he was going to die he faced it head on.”
Joel spent nine days at the Chorley children’s hospice which David described as “an amazing place” and had previously been cared for at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Joel died last Saturday. David said: “He had a lot of visitors. He had been told he was going to die probably around a month ago.
“He made it clear to me and my partner Andrea that he just wanted to die with me and Andrea at his side holding his hands. That’s the way it happened. They all went at about 3pm and he passed at about 6.30pm. It was quiet and peaceful.”
Noting his son’s bravery and positive attitude, David said he had inspired hospital staff too.
“He said to the consultant, ‘Oh well you’ve tried your best’, and he shook the doctor’s hand,” said David.
“It was incredible. One of the things he said was quite profound - ‘I had a fight with cancer and I suppose cancer won’. He used to grill his consultant, he’d properly grill him with questions. There was no hiding place for the consultant. In the end it was 26 cycles of chemotherapy, 30 rounds of radiotherapy and surgery to remove the tumour.
“After all that it as so aggressive the disease it spread throughout his body. There was just no stopping it. He has left his mark in the short time he has been here. Everything was 100 miles an hour with Joel.”
Joel also leaves siblings Jake and Jas (Jasmine).
David said: “They’ve been coping incredibly well. We’ve known since November. The consultant told us they were not going to be able to cure him but we had hoped for a few months rather than weeks like it turned out. We hoped we would have some fun times at home.”
He continued: “It’s worth mentioning he actually had the consultant and pain team emailing other professionals the length and breadth of the country to try and cure his pain. He was quite a unique case.
“They really struggled to get his pain under control so hopefully even the professionals have learned something from Joel.”
He said his son also had a great sense of humour: “He had the nurses in stitches. He was such a character... I’m bursting with pride,”
Joel, a former pupil of Barnacre Road primary school in Longridge, had belonged to two football teams Longridge Town and more recently Longsands: “He only played five games for Longsands but he was the top goal scorer in that time.”
Now the family plan to celebrate his life with a party following cremation. The funeral will be at 2.30pm on Friday February 21 at Preston Crematorium followed by the celebration of his life at The Plough at Grimsargh.
“We were planning to throw a party (for him), he never made that. We want the funeral to be a party as well. It’s going to be bright, vibrant colours which will reflect his personality. I want the end of the day to finish off with fireworks.”
Joel had rung the bell to indicate he was cancer free at Manchester Children’s Hospital last September and was able to start at Longridge High School, but the cancer returned swiftly. David said: “He was so brave going to high school.”
A JustGiving crowdfunding appeal was set up by Joel’s aunt and uncle to help Joel and the family.
David said: “It has enabled me to be with him all the time. That’s what he needed. I am so glad and appreciative of everyone’s support. It’s been overwhelming.”