Move over Superman and Batman ... Wigan has its own superhero!
Eight-year-old Josh Cubbin is showing off his super powers, five years after going into remission from an aggressive cancer.
He donned a cape and a costume as part of a superhero day at Woodfield Primary School yesterday to celebrate the milestone and help raise money for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.
Josh dressed as himself, while fellow pupils became popular superheroes or their people who inspire them.
His proud mum Jane, from Swinley, even surprised Josh by visiting school in an outfit inspired by him - complete with a mask of his face!
She said: “He’s my hero. I couldn’t think of anybody better than Josh to be that day.”
It proved to be a real celebration of how far Josh has come.
Jane remembers the day - February 2, 2014 - when she was putting her son to bed and noticed a pea-sized lump on the back of his neck.
She took him to see a doctor several times, but tests and scans failed to reveal the cause and the lump grew to the size of an egg.
Jane and husband Ian had access to private healthcare through work and that was how they got a breakthrough.
On April 22, they were told Josh had Burkitt lymphoma, a very fast-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Jane said it was “absolutely horrific” and she collapsed to the floor.
“That night we didn’t sleep. We were just crying, talking, trying to make sense of it all,” she said.
“I remember Josh woke up briefly and I couldn’t leave his side. I was in his room holding his hand.”
They went to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital the next day and doctors started chemotherapy the day after.
Josh had five cycles of chemotherapy, each lasting seven days, and he stayed in hospital for four months.
Luckily, his parents were told he had gone into remission just before the fifth cycle started that July.
Once it was complete, Josh rang the bell on ward 84 and went home with his family.
He has had regular check-ups over the past five years, with his final one scheduled for Thursday. Providing everything is clear, Josh will be discharged from the oncology service.
Jane, 44, said: “It’s amazing. It’s scary because the fear doesn’t go away, but to get to five years is a real celebration for us all.”
Fortunately Josh has made a good recovery from the gruelling treatment and is now doing well.
Jane said: “He’s recovered brilliantly. He’s so positive about everything. He’s a little ball of energy. He’s always so happy and really chilled.
“Healthwise, touch wood, we have not come across anything that at the moment is worrying us. He will have an ECG in the hospital, but the last one was okay and it’s just to check the chemotherapy hasn’t damaged his heart.”
Like many children, Josh enjoys playing games on his iPad and particularly likes Pokemon and dinosaurs.
He has big ambitions for the future.
Jane said: “For years he has wanted to be a palaeontologist with his love of dinosaurs and he has also mentioned being a scientist. But at the moment it’s his love of animals - the latest thing he has said to me is he wants to be a zookeeper looking after komodo dragons.”
His parents have explained everything that happened to Josh and kept newspaper articles, certificates and other items related to his illness.
Jane said: “We were able to have a really honest chat about it. He was absolutely fine and coped really well.
“We have always just said he is our real life superhero. He beat the baddies. We have tried to keep it very positive.”
Seeing Josh so full of energy and looking to the future is a big deal for his family, who at times could not imagine him getting so far.
Jane said: “There were times when we didn’t think he would see the morning because he was so poorly. You see a little three-year-old as poorly as he was and you just can’t sometimes comprehend it.”
With Josh doing so well, Jane hopes sharing his story will give hope to other families dealing with childhood cancer.
The family is continuing to raise awareness of the disease and money for charities in the youngster’s honour.
Jane said: “Some of the charities that helped us we had never heard of before. You never know when anything might happen to anybody in your life.”
Ian, 45, cycled from Southport to Abram on Sunday in a fund-raising bike ride organised by the family of seven-year-old Olly Johnson, who Josh met when they were being treated on the same hospital ward.
Olly, from Abram, is in remission from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
His next challenge will be the Great Manchester Run next Sunday, when he will run 10km for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital as part of a team marking its 10th anniversary on its current site.
Josh will also get involved, taking on the event’s mini run.
To sponsor the pair, go to the website www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jane-cubbin3.