CUDDLED up in bed with his family, Connor Cassidy closed his eyes for the last time.
The brave youngster died just short of his sixth birthday at his Barnes home with his mum and her partner, after his little body, which had become riddled with the disease, finally gave up its fight.
Though his life was short, Connor inspired those around him, many of who helped in fund-raising efforts so that he could spend his final months doing fun activities with his family.
Mum Elaine Fraser, 23, who lives with partner Craig Nesbitt, said she couldn’t be more proud of how her eldest son had dealt with the often painful illness.
“Connor never complained,” she said. “The only time he really did was towards the end when he couldn’t go swimming because he was hooked up to a morphine machine. He had never known anything else really so he just got on with it.
“All he wanted to do was go to school but towards the end we had to carry him up the steps because he was so weak.”
The Barnes Infant School pupil was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer which forms in nerve tissue, when he was just two-and-a-half years old.
Specialists think the youngster may have been born with a cancerous tumour in his chest. After 17 months of treatment doctors at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle thought they had managed to rid his body of the disease only for it to return three months later.
Despite trying a host of treatments, nothing could be done to halt the spread of the cancer which towards the end put so much pressure on his brain that Connor was unable to walk.
Elaine, who is also mum to Nathan, two, said: “They tried everything to help him. He would have radiotherapy to the parts that were hurting like his hips, head and eye which worked for a bit.
“In the final weeks he had a little machine which would pump morphine into his body 24 hours a day through a port in his chest. Towards the end he couldn’t really move and would sleep all the time.
“But then he’d have bursts where he’d brighten up and eat something or play on his Wii. But the nurses said that we didn’t have long left with him.”
Connor’s family used money from fund-raising to brighten Connor’s final months, taking him to Seahouses in Northumberland, buying him a labrador named Poppy who he adored, going bowling and buying him computer games.
She added: “When he died me and Craig cuddled up to him on the bed. He grabbed Craig’s hand and he was struggling to breathe then he just stopped breathing.”
Connor’s battle saw him being named as Child of Courage in our Pride of Wearside awards and many readers would contact Elaine from various stories published in the Echo over the years.
“We’ve had so much support,” said the mum-of-two. “We’d especially like to thank his oncology nurses Natalie Marshall and Keri Bland who were brilliant with him and all the teachers at Barnes School.”
Connor’s funeral will take place at 10am on Thursday at Ewesley Road Church, Barnes. Those attending are asked to wear red and blue like Connor’s favourite cartoon, Lightning McQueen.
In lieu of flowers, which Connor always said for girls, the family have asked for donations to the Neuroblastoma Society, a charity Elaine will continue to fund-raise for in her son’s memory.