Lorraine Mitchell’s heart broke when she watched her 9-year-old son scream in agony as a rare disease destroyed his body.
Her son, Finn, developed tumors in his pelvis, spine, and shoulders from stage 4 metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of cancer that develops soft tissue tumors. The cancer left the boy struggling to walk and with severe stomach pains, the Daily Mail reports.Screenshot/Finnthephoenix: Fired up
According to the American Cancer Society, sarcomas are cancers that “develop from connective tissues in the body, such as muscles, fat, bones, the linings of joints, or blood vessels.” Rhabdomyosarcoma is cancer made up of cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles.
Fewer than 60 children are diagnosed with metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma in the U.K. (where Finn lives) each year.
His mother described to the Daily Mail the suffering her son has endured as a result of the illness:
“Finn has had to deal with many difficult challenges such as his phobia of needles and anesthesia, extreme nausea, loss of weight, constant lethargy, loss of mobility and bodily functions, loss of his hair, in addition to managing extreme pain on a daily basis.”
The 49-year-old mother recalled her world being suddenly turned upside down by the heartbreaking diagnosis. But Finn, on the other hand, kept a smile on his face.
Though he missed close to a year of school as he struggled with his illness, he remained positive. And when Mitchell found a note in his backpack, she knew it spoke volumes about the young boy’s bravery.
The note he wrote read, “Note to self: be jolly!”Screenshot/Finnthephoenix: Fired up
“I found his ‘be jolly’ note in his school bag at the start of the school term in September, which was around the time he began to deteriorate and he must have been quite ill at this point.”
The “be jolly” letter that inspired Finn to hold on to the strength he needed hit his family hard. Mitchell explained:
“We kept it in his notebook and we bought it into hospital with us, though it now takes pride of place on our fridge.”
Not surprisingly, the 9-year-old found another way to keep smiling his way through his disease and to stay busy while he was missing school for treatments. He even got a head start on his future career.Screenshot/Finnthephoenix: Fired up
“He has recently created his own YouTube channel, Finnthephoenix: fired up, as he would like to become a famous vlogger when he grows up. This has been a great medium for him to express himself. I think it is a reflection of his positivity that he has chosen a phoenix as his username and logo.”
As Echo reports, Finn got to squeeze in some more fun outside of his YouTube channel by celebrating at a special summertime Christmas party — he was too sick to enjoy the holiday in December. He was also honored for his courageous spirit during the Kids and Teens Star Awards party.
Cancer Research UK spokesman Danielle Glavin said:
“It is an absolute privilege to be able to recognize Finn’s bravery. He has been through so much at such a young age and yet he is still smiling. He really is a true star.”
The 9-year-old vlogger’s health has improved. Most of Finn’s tumors have disappeared, and the ones that are left are inactive. As a result, he is in partial remission.
Finn continues to receive chemotherapy maintenance treatment and has completed a round of radiotherapy at University College London Hospital.
Mitchell pointed out that her son also shared words with her that stopped the mother in her tracks:
“He also recently told me that he thinks that life is a dream and when you die, you just wake up … very profound for a nine-year-old.”
You can check out Finn in action on YouTube here: