Nathan Andrew may have been in the fight of his young life – but his first thought was still for others.
The nine-year-old had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a cancer of the white blood cells.
Facing the prospect of intensive chemotherapy to combat the disease, Nathan was asked if he would be prepared to also participate in a clinical trial looking at ways to reduce the side effects of treatment for leukaemia on children.
And, touchingly, he immediately agreed to the request, telling his loved ones he wanted to do something that could help youngsters in the same situation.
Now Nathan, who is today in remission but still in need of another two years of treatment, has had his selflessness recognised with a bravery award from Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens.
Proud mum Frances, who is originally from Harehills in Leeds but lives in Middlesbrough, said today: “He had no hesitation taking part in the trial, saying that even though it may be of no benefit to him it may help others in the future.
“We were so moved by his maturity and kindness despite going through such a difficult thing himself.”
Nathan was diagnosed in July last year after complaining of feeling unwell during a visit to Leeds for a christening.
Frances, who still has many family members in the city, said: “When Nathan was diagnosed, he understood he had a life-threatening illness but faced it with such an amazing attitude and bravery.
“It’s his positivity that has kept us going. Sadly he never got to meet either of his granddads because of cancer so he’s well aware of the condition and has even said how lucky he is to be diagnosed now, as 40 years ago he wouldn’t have survived.”
Frances also praised Nathan’s younger brother, Daniel, and the boys’ dad, Stephen, for the resilience they have shown since the diagnosis.
“Stephen stayed home and looked after Daniel while Nathan and I were in hospital so it’s really been a family effort,” she said.
Paying tribute to Nathan’s determination, Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens spokeswoman Lisa Millett said: “Cancer has a devastating impact on children, forcing them to show an incredible bravery beyond their years, so it is a privilege to be able to recognise the courage of youngsters like Nathan.
“He is a true star who richly deserves this accolade.”
Money raised by Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens is ring-fenced to fund work relating to children, teen and young adult cancers.
Its awards scheme is supported by retailer TK Maxx.