When did Bradley Lowery die, what is neuroblastoma and how did the young Sunderland supporter know Jermain Defoe?
YOUNG Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery’s parents say the little boy has lost his fight with a rare and debilitating form of cancer.
The six-year-old struck up a close bond with Jermain Defoe and captured the nation’s hearts with his winning smile. Here’s how his battle unfolded.
Who was Bradley Lowery?
Bradley Lowery, from Blackhall Colliery, near Hartlepool, battled cancer most of his young life before he lost his fight on July 7.
The six-year-old’s life changed at the age of 18 months when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
Sunderland fan Brad beat the disease once but after some time in remission it came back in July 2016.
His family desperately raised money for treatment in the US but doctors delivered the heart-breaking news that the boy’s cancer had become terminal.
The youngster’s mum Gemma announced on Facebook that the youngster sadly lost his battle with cancer at 13:35 on July 7.
Any money raised which did not go towards Bradley’s treatment will be put into the Bradley Lowery Foundation to support others going through the same ordeal.
How did Bradley battle neuroblastoma?
When the cancer first emerged, Bradley developed a tumour so large it was putting pressure on some of his major organs and arteries.
It eventually spread through his chest, lungs, lymph nodes, bone and bone marrow but, after major surgery and high doses of chemotherapy, he managed to pull through and went into remission.
But sadly the cancer returned in July 2016, and in December 2016, his family were told it was terminal.
His family kept people up to date with pictures of the the little boy smiling on his hospital bed on Facebook.
In a post to Facebook on May 10, Bradley’s mum Gemma had told how “things are moving too fast” after an MRI scan showed his condition had taken a turn for the worse and he spent his sixth birthday in Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Days later it was revealed he was having palliative care as he also had tumours in his lungs and the cancer was “spreading at a fast rate”.
Gemma posted a picture of her son on Facebookand said: “I would just like to show you regardless of the pain he is in and that he is going through a hard time he still managed the most beautiful smile #myhero.”
In June 2017, the devastated mum posted a heartbreaking picture of the pained youngster with his older brother – as she revealed he was “deteriorating fast”.
And by the end of the month, it was revealed Bradley had just days to live and had a “bed party” where he said goodbyes to loved ones before snuggling up with Jermain Defoe.
A heart-rending Facebook update on July 5 has described the brave tot as “very close to going with the angels”.
In the latest heartbreaking update on Bradley’s condition before he sadly passed away, his family revealed that the youngster was “no longer responsive”.
Social media became flooded with messages filled with blue heart emojis in a show of support for Bradley in the wake of his passing.
How has the football world reacted to Bradley passing away?
Tributes and messages have flooded in from the football world and beyond since the sad news was announced.
Sunderland AFC released an official statement, honouring the little boy as “an inspiration” who “captured the hearts and minds of everyone at our club”.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Bradley’s parents, Gemma and Carl, his brother Kieran and their family and friends,” the club said.
“We extend our love and support to them, now and always.”
Brad’s beloved team also paid a poignant tribute to their young fan with a minute’s applause ahead of their friendly against Bury on the day of Bradley’s death.
The official FIFA.com account posted “Today, the football world lost one of its bravest fans. Rest in peace, Bradley Lowery.”
Former England striker Gary Lineker described Bradley as “A warrior and an inspiration to the end”.
And another goalscoring legend, Alan Shearer posted: “So sorry that little @Bradleysfight has passed away.
“An inspirational life cut way too short. Thoughts with his amazing family & friends RIP.”
The official England football team account tweeted, simply: “There’s only one Bradley Lowery.”https://d-375791458756455940.ampproject.net/1499459975276/frame.html
What is Neuroblastoma?
Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that most commonly afflicts babies and young children.
The disease develops from special nerve cells, known as neuroblasts, which get left behind from the child’s development in the womb.
It mostly begins in the sufferer’s adrenal glands located above the kidneys but can occur in the nerve tissue that runs along the spinal cord in the neck, chest, abdomen or pelvis.
The vicious illness can then spread to other organs like the bone, bone marrow, lymph nodes and skin.
Neuroblastoma afflicts around 100 children a year in the UK but the cause of the disease is still not known.
Its symptoms can include:
- a swollen painful tummy, sometimes in association with constipation and difficulty passing urine
- breathlessness and difficulty swallowing
- a lump in the neck
- blueish lumps in the skin and bruising, particularly around the eyes
- weakness in the legs and an unsteady walk, with numbness in the lower body, constipation and difficulty passing urine
- fatigue, loss of energy, pale skin, loss of appetite and weight loss
- bone pain, a limp and general irritability
- jerky eye and muscle movements
How did Bradley know Jermain Defoe?
Bradley was a regular Sunderland mascot, holding the hand of his idol Jermain Defoe.
The youngster struck up a friendship with the England striker, who has recently moved to AFC Bournemouth.
In June 2017, Defoe penned an emotional tribute to his “best pal” Bradley – saying his favourite part of playing for Sunderland was walking on to the pitch with the brave youngster.
Brad’s penalty in the warm-up before Sunderland’s game against Chelsea was picked as Match Of The Day’s goal of the month.
In April 2017, Grand National organisers awarded Bradley an honorary 41st place at Britain’s biggest horse race.
Defoe broke down in emotional scenes during a press conference on the eve of Bradley’s death, telling reporters the boy would “always be in my heart”.
What is the Smile charity song?
Track Smile For Bradley raced to No.3 on the iTunes chart following its release on June 23.
The re-working of classic track Smile features sisters Liv ‘n’ G alongside Bradley’s classmates at Blackhall Colliery Primary School.
Updated lyrics include: “Smile my little superhero, may your pain be zero.”
The six-year-old plugged the track in a heart-warming video uploaded to Facebook.
Watch this touching video: