TRIBUTES have poured out to courageous Isle child Alexander Strong and his family, after the young boy who won the hearts of everyone finally lost his battle against cancer.
Epworth’s Lex Strong lived up to his name to the last, and died as he had lived, said his family, who said he showed “more courage, bravery and dignity than any seven-year old should ever have to show.”
The little lad’s mum, Maxine, 45, paid her own tribute to her son this week and said: “Everyone loved him. He was an amazing young man and we are proud to be his parents. He never complained or moaned and he was so loved. He had scores of friends.”
She added: “The sadness at his death has spread far and wide. He had so much to give and I’m just glad to have been his mum.”
A heartbroken community has shared in the grief of Lex’s devastated family, by posting up their thoughts, tributes, poems and photographs on social networking sites devoted to the youngster.
Despite three years of gruelling hospital treatments, after he was diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer and then another form of cancer in his chest, Alex was rarely seen, or photographed without his sunny smile.
His bravery astounded everyone, and when all conventional treatments were exhausted, his parents Mark and Maxine, and sister Olivia, nine, launched a fund to raise £90,000 to try alternatives abroad. The response was huge and ongoing.
Isle folk led the way, and to date over £55,000 has been amassed. The money will now go to other stricken families, and to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.
However, on Friday chartered engineer Mark, 46, relayed the sad news that Lexy had left them in the early hours of the morning, at Bluebell Wood.
His emotive post said simply: “We have lost our son Lex, the little man passed away about an hour ago. He, along with Olivia, are our reason for being, and we are extremely sorry to have to tell you this.”
He added: “Please say a final prayer for our brave, beautiful, courageous Lex. Love to all.”
Mark told the Bells how he and Maxine never gave up hope and only accepted that they would lose Lex in these past few final weeks.
He said: “We only told Olivia two days before Lex’s passing. Both Lex and his sister never knew how ill he really was. We decided not to tell them.
“We had the treatment plan in our minds. Lex was due to have a second course of treatment in London this week and then we had hoped to take him to Germany. But we had to give up looking for a cure. That’s what had kept Max and I going. We didn’t believe we would ever lose him.
“In the end it all seemed to happen so quickly and without Bluebell Wood I don’t feel we’d have coped.
“We all came, even our dog Tilly, and have been with Alex all the time.
“I was with him, holding his hand when he died. And Max and Olivia were close by. We are staying here a while as we can go to see Lex when we want to. There’s been a stream of visitors to support us.”
He continued: “Lex was very fortunate if you can call it that. His disease didn’t make him poorly - his treatment did. And he took it in his stride. He was always a bundle of joy. Lex loved to tease. The last thing he said to me, at home in his bedroom, was ‘daddy’ in his jokey tone after I said something sarcastic to Max.
“He then lost his ability to speak, and finally lost his sight before we got to the hospice.”
Last month, Alex had begun a new radiotherapy treatment at University College Hospital, London in a bid to buy time as medics sought to find alternative treatments for his rare form of cancer, known as neuroblastoma. Mark developed a website which has been updated constantly, at Lexys Fund In November, Epworth Primary School pupils Lex and Olivia were treated to a VIP day at Hamley’s toy shop in London, courtesy of Epworth Rotary Club. “They came home loaded with toys,” said Mark. “We were together as a family for Christmas and Lex was well enough to enjoy that.”
Epworth authors Rebecca Kershaw and Adele Carrington both released first novels recently and launched a ‘Battle of the Books’ for Alexander’s fund. * Links to related articles: Star Wars funeral for Alex Strong a boy with galactic courage