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Courageous Jack Joslin will spend Christmas battling brain cancer
IT will be the best Christmas ever.
Determined mum-of-two Lisa Joslin has no doubts about that.
The family home is transformed into the ultimate festive grotto.
There’s a Father Christmas climbing up the brick wall into an upstairs window, lights in the garden, two perfectly decorated Christmas trees, illuminated presents, a mountain of gifts and even a cuddly chipmunk dressed as Santa.
And Lisa is adamant every moment with her family will matter.
That’s because just four months ago her little boy was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Brave Jack, eight, has so far survived 13 medical procedures including a 10 hour operation to remove the brain tumour which has left him unable to walk and with a palsy on his right side.
This Christmas he’ll be in hospital yet again enduring critical chemotherapy to stop the disease raging ahead of months of radiotherapy and more chemotherapy in the New Year. But they are just hoping he will be able to enjoy a family roast dinner at home tomorrow.
“I don’t look ahead now because it frightens me. All we can do is take it day by day, hour by hour.
“I don’t know what tomorrow brings so it’s really important we have the best Christmas ever.
“Jack’s had an awful four months, no fun at all, so we are going to have loads of fun and spend time together as a family.
“The only thing I want this Christmas is for Jack to be well. I’d swap anything in the world for that. It changes your whole perspective when something like this happens.
“Anything the boys want this Christmas I want them to have it.”
But tragically Lisa can’t give Jack the one thing he dreams of – to get better and be able to move again.
Jack, centre, with brother Harry and mum Lisa.
Jack is so poorly he is unable to stand unaided and gets around in a wheelchair, by using a mini walker or crawling.
Today he’s lying on the sofa among the magical decorations play fighting with his radiotherapy mask as if it’s a toy before holding it to his face.
He wants to decorate it to look like a Smurf or a creature from the Blockbuster Avatar.
“If I was on Avatar I could move,” Jack, an avid Leeds United fan, says.
Jack being fitted for his radiotherapy mask
Thoughts of the super human creatures which swing through the trees momentarily wipe away the indignant look from his pale face for a glimpse of the carefree kid he was.
He used to have bags of energy, Lisa says.
He would climb everything, zoom down his road in Chandler’s Ford on his scooter, ride his bike, play football and street dance.
But in August the family’s life cruelly changed.
Jack began being sick and though initially Lisa put it down to a tummy bug she began making detailed notes about each episode.
When they went to see Jack’s dad and Lisa’s husband Graham, who works in Gibraltar, his condition deteriorated with severe headaches and he began stumbling and losing his balance.
The family GP referred him immediately for tests at hospital.
But the 42-year-old former accounts clerk never dreamed her son would still be in hospital six weeks later after being told he had a brain tumour.
“I burst into tears and thought ‘no this isn’t my little boy’, I was numb. I couldn’t take anything in.”
Two days after first going into hospital Jack had a 10-hour operation to remove the tumour and they were told it was medulloblastoma, a fast-growing life-threatening cancerous tumour which can spread to elsewhere in the brain and spinal cord if left untreated.
Lisa, who spent day and night with Jack at hospital, says: “After his operation it was awful. I didn’t recognise him.
“He couldn’t move, he had a drain coming out the top of his head, bandages all around, he couldn’t see properly. He couldn’t lift his head.
“It was really frightening It was like he had a stroke on his right hand side and he’s still got a palsy on his face.”
Just a week later doctors had to operate again on the same part of the brain for a further eight hours and ever since he has been in and out for more procedures and treatments.
Showing maturity beyond his years, little Jack, who hasn’t been able to return to Hiltingbury Junior School for months due to his illness, openly talks about the ‘chemo’ before showing off his ‘Beads of Courage’ he receives from Southampton General Hospital’s Piam Brown ward.
Each tiny bead represents a different stage of his treatment whether it’s an operation he’s endured, a night stayed in hospital or another procedure he has braved – a giveaway of the suffering the small boy who loves Lego, Furby and Minions has faced.
But despite the agonies he has been through, he’s still sweet-tempered, putting his arms around his big brother Harry, 11, who has had to move in with his grandparents Mike and Christine Thew.
He shows off his ‘bumpy’ neck where doctors have fitted a tube that runs from his brain to drain the fluid and grins at the police and army helicopters, killer whales and rudolphs he has made with his mum from ‘wee pots’ at the hospital.
“He’s a very determined loveable little fella. He’s got a real personality on him, such a cheeky little chappie. He makes people laugh in the hospital. He once said: ‘I only came in here for a scan.’
“It’s very sad he’s been so poorly since the chemo. It breaks my heart to see him like it. He’s had knock after knock after knock. I just want to take the pain away from him.
“He’s shouted in the hospital before ‘I wish I was dead’ it’s so upsetting he’s going through this.”
Lisa and Graham have set up the Facebook page Jack’s Journey where people have left messages of support and made donations.
Lisa, says: “It means the world to me just getting a message. I can’t thank them enough because it’s been a backbone.
“I feel so helpless and out of control. I feel like my whole world has crumbled around me.
“I wish it was me. I think ‘why him?’, ‘what’s he ever done?’ “There are no words to say how you feel as a mother. It’s the worst thing that could ever happen in your life.
“He’s my everything, my little ray of sunshine.
“Both my kids, they are my life, they always have been.
“My whole life has revolved around them and it always will.
“I have to hold onto hope and then maybe we’ll get our Jack back.”
*To follow Jack's news and support the family go to Jack’s Journey on Facebook
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