By Jessica Sooknanan
A 5-year-old boy battling a rare form of cancer is getting a lot of love this holiday season. So far he has received thousands of Christmas cards from around the world and even attended an award show thanks to his favorite soccer team.
Bradley Lowery was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2013 when he was just a toddler. After fighting a difficult battle, he was declared cancer-free.
“He was like every other child,” Lynn Murphy, a friend of the family, told Hot Topics Tuesday. “Going back to school, being mischievous, just like every 3 or 4 year old does.”
Then, in July, Bradley’s family learned his cancer had returned.
The 5-year-old from Blackhall Colliery in England is currently undergoing cancer treatment. He is scheduled to receive a new medicine in the new year that combines antibody and chemotherapy treatments. He will be the first child in the U.K. to receive it.
“He’s got the fight in him. We’re going to give him every chance we can,” Murphy said.
Murphy has been helping the family manage their Facebook page, Bradley Lowery’s Fight, since his story gained international attention last week, thanks to a tweet by soccer star Robbie Fowler. Fowler tweeted a call-to-action asking his fans to send Bradley Christmas cards after learning about his story on social media.
Within the past two weeks, Bradley has received more than 226,000 Christmas cards and gifts from strangers around the world.
“We’ve had to look into getting private storage at a warehouse,” said Murphy. “We have an event on Thursday where the whole community is going to come out to help us open all the cards.”
Bradley and his family are touched by the many messages they are receiving.
“Some people who are also going through cancer are writing to say Bradley is an inspiration,” said Murphy. “They’re taking the time out to write a card, even though they’re going through cancer.”
His family launched a crowdfunding campaign that has now raised more than £850,000 total, which is equal to more than $1 million.
The family plans to set up a charity in Bradley’s name to help other kids who need expensive medical treatments.
“There’s a lot of kids like Bradley who need treatments,” said Murphy. “We need to keep funds for other kids fighting illness in need of treatment.”
On Sunday, Bradley also got another big treat: a walk down the red carpet. He attended the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards with his parents, Carl and Gemma. He was nominated for a Goal of the Month award after scoring a penalty goal for the Sunderland soccer team against Chelsea at the Stadium of Light in England.
He dressed in a suit for the special occasion and flashed a big smile for the cameras.
“He loved it,” Murphy laughed. “People were chasing him up the corridor to get a photograph with Bradley. It was like he was the celebrity. He knows how to work the media.”
Bradley and his family couldn’t be more grateful for all the love he has gotten this holiday season.
“Bradley is saying thank you to the whole world,” said Murphy. “You’ve made his best Christmas happen.”