Epworth boy Alexander Strong was always smiling – he was amazing
THE family of Alexander Strong have paid tribute to the courage of their son after he lost his battle with cancer.
The Strong family have spoken to the Telegraph as they prepare to say goodbye to the seven-year-old for the final time.
Alexander died at Bluebell Wood Children's Hospice, near Sheffield, shortly before 5am last Friday.
The youngster had tried all UK treatment opportunities available in his three-year battle with neuroblastoma – a form of children's cancer.
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Alexander had numerous operations and radiotherapy to remove the tumours, but in recent months the cancer spread into his legs, neck and head. But up until the very end, his parents never gave up hope of finding a cure – exploring various overseas treatments.
And when Alexander finally lost his fight against the illness, they said they were at least relieved he was free from pain.
Alexander was taken into the children's hospice last Thursday morning, following advice from his outreach nurse.
Doctors said Alexander had days left. Ten hours later, he died in his sleep clutching his father's hand.
His mother Maxine paid tribute.
"He was always smiling – he was amazing," she said. "He was so brave – I've never known a child with so much courage.
"He had courage like the toy lion he had from birth. Over the last three months he had it beside him all the time. He never complained.
"He had so many friends, even though he didn't spend much time at school.
"Everybody loved him – from the teenagers who would babysit him for us. It was like a ripple effect – everyone knew who he was.
"Alexander's funeral will be a celebration – a day to remember him as he was. He was a beautiful and lovely boy who everybody loved."
Big sister Olivia, 9, paid tribute to her brother, saying: "He always cheered me up if I was upset – he would make me laugh. We watched movies together and played in the garden. I am going to miss being with him."
Speaking about the hours leading up to Alexander's death, Mrs Strong said: "I spent the whole day holding his hand and telling him that everyone loved him. I kept going in and kissing him all day – I never stopped."
Alexander's father Mark added: "Alexander was still conscious and 'with it', but he couldn't speak. Staff struggled to get Alexander to sleep that night. I laid beside him holding his hand. It was the nurse who said he died that morning.
"His death was unexpected, but I was relieved he died peacefully."
The family will remain at the hospice until Sunday.