MEET a real little star.
Five-year-old Joe Ball has been honoured for his brave fight against leukaemia, after he was diagnosed with the illness in March last year.
The courageous youngster was given a Cancer Research UK Little Star award – after being nominated by his grandad, Dennis Ball, who sadly died in January.
Joe is now halfway through a three-year course of treatment, and responding well to chemotherapy.
Mum Caroline, from Lytham, had realised something was seriously wrong when Joe lost his appetite, became lethargic and developed pinprick marks around his neck.
Caroline, a civil servant, went to the GP, and Joe was initially referred to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
A blood test revealed he had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and he was immediately transferred to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
After further tests, he underwent a blood transfusion before starting an intensive course of chemo.
Caroline missed work for nine months and stayed with Joe at the hospital, which became a second home for the family.
She said: “I just knew there was something seriously wrong, but it was devastating when we were told it was leukaemia.
“We are so proud of the way he has coped with all the time spent in hospital.
“When he was initially diagnosed, Joe was just spitting out the medicine and crying for me. Now he takes it all in his stride.
“It was a big shock for us all and for a while he didn’t speak and couldn’t walk, but once the steroids started to kick in, he started to feel a bit better.
“Now we are just living with it.
“He is still having the treatment, but we can look forward to Christmas this year much more than last year.
“Last year, Joe had only just finished the second big lot of chemo. This year, we will definitely be making the most of it and enjoying Christmas.
“And thanks to the Wish Upon A Star organisation, Joe is going on a trip to Lapland to meet Father Christmas, which he is really excited about.
“We still have a long way to go, but we have to remain positive.”
She said the family was delighted that Joe, who goes to St Peter’s Primary School, in Lytham, was given a Little Star award.
Caroline said: “For Joe to receive the award was wonderful, but it meant even more because he was nominated by his grandad.
“It was a surprise to us, because we didn’t know he had done it. But it’s a lovely memory for us to have.”
Cancer Research and TK Maxx have again launched the Little Star awards, which aim to acknowledge the unique challenges faced by youngsters who experience cancer.
“Each and every child nominated receives an award.
Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK’s spokeswoman for the North West, said: “Joe is a true Little Star, who richly deserves this accolade.
“We hope to acknowledge the bravery of many more children like Joe, and are encouraging family and friends to get nominating now.”
You can show your support for children like Joe living with cancer, by logging on to www.cancerresearchuk.org/littlestar.
The awards are open to all under-18s who have cancer or been treated for the disease in the last five years.