Updated: Monday, 13th July 2020 @ 9:36pm

Come save a life: Brave Leeds boy, just six, calls on Manchester to help beat rare deadly cancer at fundraiser

Come save a life: Brave Leeds boy, just six, calls on Manchester to help beat rare deadly cancer at fundraiser

| By Sian Broderick

A little boy suffering from a deadly rare cancer is turning to Manchester to help raise awareness of the disease.

Leeds-born Joseph Lillywhite, aged just six, was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer, last year and is currently receiving treatment for the life-threatening tumour which has grown around his kidney.

Family friend Joanne Partington, from Heywood, will be hosting a charity evening at Rochdale AFC’s Spotland Stadium on behalf of her school friend’s son to support charity Neuroblastoma Alliance UK.

Speaking to MM, Joanne said: “Joseph’s got this absolutely infectious smile and he’s fought this with every little bone in his body – we’ve just constantly got our fingers crossed that he’ll get through it.

“He’s just a typical six-year-old, he loves Spiderman and LEGO and he’s such a lovely little boy.  He shouldn’t have to go through this.

“We’ve already raised a huge amount since he was diagnosed and the response we’ve had has been overwhelming. People just want to help and that’s why I wanted to do something here in Manchester for him.”

Joseph is currently receiving frontline treatment at Leeds General Infirmary and the public have already rallied around the youngster, raising almost £200,000 on JustGiving.

MAKING A SOUND: Joseph is hoping to raise awareness of the rare condition

According to Neuroblastoma Alliance UK, the disease causes 15% of childhood cancer deaths and two children are diagnosed with the illness every week in the UK.

Unfortunately, long-term survival for children with high-risk neuroblastoma is less than half the average rate for other childhood cancer and relapse rates are high.

Despite this, there is currently no protocol in the UK for relapse neuroblastoma, if treatment is needed.

More often than not children and their families are required to raise money for treatment provided in other parts of Europe or the United States.

Joseph’s family is yet to discover if he will need such treatment, depending on whether the tumour becomes more aggressive, but are raising money to ensure they have the funds to support them if needed.

Joanne, who has been friends with Joseph’s mother since high school, said: “It’s a horrible illness that we’d never even heard of until Joseph was diagnosed.

“If we don’t need the funds to send Joseph for treatment they will be going towards the charity to help raise awareness and fund research.

“You don’t realise until it affects you and somebody you love how horribly heartbreaking things like this are.

PUTTING A BRAVE FACE ON: Joseph celebrates his birthday

“You don’t want people to put themselves in your shoes but you do want them to appreciate the heartbreak it causes.

“I just felt like I had to do something to help, so I took it upon myself to organize the event so my friends and work colleges who've all heard so much about him can help.”

Fewer than 100 children in the UK are diagnosed each year with neuroblastoma, which is most common in children younger than five-years-old. Neuroblastoma is the second most common solid tumour in childhood.

Joanne said: “There’s going to be a live band, a buffet and we’re going to be having an auction and raffle with some amazing prizes that have been donated.

“I’d like to thank all of the local businesses, especially Vauxhall in Rochdale, who have given us £450 in vouchers so we can hire a photo booth for the night.

“Everybody has been so generous even people who don’t know him personally and that has been absolutely lovely to see.”

The event will be held in the Ratcliffe Suite at Rochdale Football Club on Saturday November 15 and tickets cost £10.

To find out more about Joseph’s story visit his JustGiving page.

Images courtesy of Facebook with thanks