LITTLE Jonathan Howard is winning the fight of his life.
The five-year-old is battling acute lymphoblastic leukaemia which has ravaged his body.
Mum, Marie Howard, 33, said: “Even though he’s been through so much, he just keeps smiling.”
In August last year, Jonathan, of Washington, began feeling unwell after developing a rash that wouldn’t go away.
Marie said: “We took him to the walk-in centre and they sent us up to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.”
Blood tests were immediately carried out, revealing the blood cancer.
Medics that night referred the youngster to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary as his parents tried to get their heads around everything that was happening.
Marie said: “When you hear the word ‘leukaemia’, it can be incredibly frightening – you just think the worst.
“Everything was happening so quickly, we were all just on autopilot.
“When I look back, I still have no idea how we coped.”
Within 24 hours of arriving at the RVI, Jonathan was in theatre having a control-line fitted so that an intense blast of chemotherapy could be administered to fight the cancer in his blood.
“The next five weeks were really tough,” recalls Marie. “The chemo was intense and they were giving him a lot of steroids, which were making him quite grumpy.
“Of course, because he was so young, he didn’t really understand what was going on.”
The medication made Jonathan’s weight bloat to almost twice his normal size.
After four weeks of the treatment, the youngster was classed as being in remission but the intensive chemotherapy continued for the next nine months.
It was a difficult time for the family, including dad Andrew, 34, and little brother Liam, two.
Marie added: “We were spending so many nights in hospital and both of us supposed to be working full time.
“People forget about the impact this type of thing can have on the rest of the family.”
Although Jonathan has got through the intense stage of his treatment, he will continue to need chemotherapy until 2015.
For now, the youngster, a pupil at St John Boste Primary School in Washington, is just concentrating on getting better.
“He loves running around, playing with cars and planes,” said Marie.
“He’s so brave, so polite and just a very special little boy.”
Earlier this month, Jonathan picked up a Braveheart award for his courage during a special ceremony in Newcastle.
Marie added: “What happened to Jonathan really puts things into perspective. It makes you realise what’s important in life.”