The father of a three-year-boy who has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time has thanked his village community and organisers of a popular Diss football competition for their support.
Sean Rourke, 53, said he has been both touched and humbled after villagers in Redgrave got together to help raise money for his family after his son, Joseph, was diagnosed with the condition in January.
Organisers of this year’s King of the Cup football fundraiser in Diss in March, have also chosen to support them.
It is the second time the brave Joseph has been diagnosed with the condition after specialists first discovered he was suffering from a rare form of cancer when he was just 10 months old.
The youngster went through two years of treatment and was given the all clear in August.
Now, Sean and his wife, Louise, 37, who used to run The Cross Keys pub in the village, have learned the cancer has returned.
Joseph is currently undergoing 13 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, and at home.
He will then need to be taken to Bristol Royal Infirmary for a stem cell transplant from his five-year-old brother, Patrick, later this year.
“I am truly humbled and touched by the support of the village and King of the Cup,” said Sean Rourke, a carpenter.
“When Joseph was first diagnosed with cancer in 2015, people in the village offered help with things like school runs, cutting the grass and household tasks.
“They also donated toys and gifts and we were touched even then, but what they are doing now is amazing.
“We thought Joseph had won his battle the first time. We took him on holiday to Greece last year with his grandparents and spent a wonderful Christmas with him, spoiling him rotten.
“But it was a routine check that picked up another lump on January 18 and we were devastated.
“He was immediately taken to Addenbrooke’s to start more chemotherapy.”
Joseph was first diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoblastic lymphoma in July 2015.
Mum Louise gave up her job as a teacher to help care for him as he underwent chemotherapy involving steroids and injections.
“He is such a brave little boy and a real fighter,” said Sean.
“He faces a real ordeal over the coming months but he is strong willed and always battles back.
“I believe 90 per cent of youngsters recover after the first treatment he received, but Joseph was one of the unlucky ones.
“After the chemotherapy this time, he will need a bone marrow transplant and we will live in Bristol temporarily.
“Thankfully, his brother, Patrick, is a suitable one-in four match and we are just hoping for the best.”
Villagers in Redgrave have launched a fund to help the couple with travel and living costs while Joseph is treated.
His sisters, Fiona, 31, and Evelyn, 21, have also taken up The Three Peaks Challenge in Yorkshire in April, with a group of friends to raise funds for the Joseph vs Cancer fund.
They can be sponsored by searching for Joseph Vs Cancer at www.gofundme.com.
King of the Cup takes place on March 30 at Rectory Meadow, Diss.