Joshua Johns is now 12, smiling and proud to say that he’s ‘kicked cancer’s butt‘. Memories of grueling chemotherapy sessions that left him in a wheelchair are now behind and his eyes are set into the future, with the hope that one day to become a doctor.
Back in 2013, little Joshua was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Symptoms manifested quickly – he felt tired, became pale and eventually lost the use of his legs. Initially, they thought it was a viral infection, as tiny bruises appeared on his body. After countless scans and tests, the family received the devastating news.
For some time, it felt there was no hope. The strong courses of chemo added to the effects of the disease. Josh lost his hair and could do nothing but lay in his hospital bed, connected to IVs and surrounded by monitors.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a type of blood cancer that develops from early (immature) lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. It can be hard to identify, as symptoms are vague and resemble the flu: general weakness, fever, unexpected weight loss, bone or joint pain etc.
The process of regaining his health back was slow and sprinkled with other complications. The boy initially suffered separation anxiety as the family was forced to move closer to the hospital. Josh also had to be enrolled in a different school, and initially insisted one of his parents sit through the lessons with him. A lot of psychological intervention from the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital was required, but little by little the youngster recovered his health and his confidence.
Even though he doesn’t like to talk about his experiences, Josh understands how important it is to raise awareness. He was later invited to open Cancer Research UK’s first charity superstore at Regent Road Retail Park in Salford, the town where he underwent treatment.
Stories like these give us hope and serve as a reminder that good things still happen.