Abbotsford teen waged brave battle with cancer

St. John Brebeuf student Josh has passed away after a four-year battle

  • Oct. 31, 2013 4:00 p.m.
St. John Brebeuf student Josh

St. John Brebeuf student Josh

Karen Murphy Corr, Contributor

After a courageous battle against cancer, 14-year-old St. John Brebeuf student Josh passed away Oct. 23.

“He was so ready,” shared his mother Cheryle, who requested the family’s last name not be published. “He fought so hard the last four years.”

Abbotsford News readers were first introduced to Josh’s story in March 2012 when the BC Lions took on the SJB Bears at Hoops for Hope, a fundraiser to help raise money for Josh and his family to travel to the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston, MA for surgery.

In May of this year friends of his family released 500 balloons as a symbol of prayerful hope and support with all the students at the Catholic high school.

Josh was first diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma days after his birthday in December of 2009. The tumour behind his cheekbone initially responded well to treatment and the results after surgery to remove it last year seemed promising, but it returned.

His father Angelo is grateful to everyone in the community who made it possible for them to continue treatments, especially the special surgery last year in the United States.

“Because of Cheryle and Josh and their persistence, and everyone’s help, we got to spend three more years with Josh.”

Angelo and Cheryle hope people are touched by Josh’s unwavering faith.

“He had such faith he has changed me for life,” explains his father. “He said something to his mother that if he could take back the last four years he wouldn’t because cancer is bad but he wouldn’t change it because he had met so many wonderful people and done some amazing things.”

Josh was a quiet young man, who loved building Lego and spending time with family and friends. When he wanted to die at home, Canuck Place respected his wishes and sent two nurses to assist the family.

“I really could not thank them enough,” says Cheryle. “They were there to take care of his medical needs so that we could have time as a family and I got to just be his mum. He was so aware right to the end and I held him in my arms while he passed. It was what I wanted and what he wanted and our family just feels really blessed we got what we needed for Josh.”

Tributes to his life are filling the Joshua’s Fight For Life Facebook page he created. Photos of him in his brown Star Wars-inspired robe had many people compare his courage and determination to Jedi warriors.

Family friend Monica Unger says the family has been selfless in sharing Josh’s journey with the community: “Jedi Josh touched literally thousands of lives around the world.

“His courage, strength, humility and perseverance were a witness of his faith and love for Christ. The threads he wove here on Earth will forever be seen from heaven as a beautiful tapestry.”

Josh is survived by his parents Cheryle and Angelo, older siblings Costa and Monica, extended family and many friends.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to Cops for Cancer, which raises money to fight childhood cancers.

Prayers were held Tuesday in the gym at St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary and the funeral was held there yesterday (Wednesday).