BRAVEHEART Joshua Thompson is fighting back after twice being diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening disease.
Refusing to give up, the five-year-old schoolboy is currently undergoing chemotherapy as he battles to overcome an immune disorder that cripples his little body.
Mum Lynsey Thompson, 36, said: “He’s so incredibly brave but sometimes he gets frightened and thinks he’s going to die.”
Yesterday the Thompson family, from Pennywell, watched on with pride as Joshua received a special Braveheart award in recognition of his courage.
The Academy 360 pupil was just three years old when signs of the disease, thought to affect just one in 200,000 children, first started to appear.
Mum-of-five Lynsey said: “He developed a lump on the back of his neck and it didn’t seem to be going away.
“It started to change shape so they ran a few tests for things like TB but there was still no explanation.”
A biopsy followed and medics then diagnosed Joshua with Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), which causes tumours in the body, as well as damage to organs.
In January 2011, the schoolboy began nine months of chemotherapy treatment which left him exhausted.
Hopes were high when, later that year, doctors said the youngster had gone into remission and was on the road to recovery.
“But then in October last year, he started developing more problems,” said Lynsey. “He had a lot of ulcers in his mouth and his teeth were all wobbly.”
To the devastation of the family, another biopsy revealed the condition had returned and more chemotherapy would be needed.
Lynsey added: “He’s going to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary every three weeks.”
The illness has taken its toll on the schoolboy and his family including sisters Jaime, 19, Chloe, 14, Bethany, 13, and Kayleigh, 12.
“He gets a lot of mood swings and he’s having nightmares. At times he dreams he is already dead.
“It’s hard for a five-year-old to understand what’s happening to him.”
On his better days, Joshua is just like any little boy.
He loves to torment his sisters, play football and sing and dance around the house.
The family attended St James’s Park yesterday for the annual Braveheart awards which recognises children of courage from across the North East.
Joshua was presented with a laptop computer during the ceremony.
Lynsey said: “We’re all so proud of him. It’s been a manic day.”
l A fund-raising night will be held for Joshua at the Saltgrass pub in Deptford, Sunderland, on Saturday, November 16.