SMILING Charlie Foster is truly amazing.
The brave nine-year-old has endured a 17-month battle with Acute Lymphoblatic Leukemia – yet still stands on the last day of school term smiling with his friends.
Charlie has missed more than 20 per cent of school time due to hours upon hours of gruelling chemotherapy and treatment but remarkably was still the top maths performer in his school’s year group last year.
Today, Charlie’s headteacher hailed him as “an inspiration” and his proud parents told of his “amazing courage” in battling the killer disease head on.
Charlie is now in remission after the treatment managed to rid his body of more than 95 per cent of the cancer, but he still needs daily, weekly and monthly chemotherapy at home.
His mum, Alison, admits he still has his “bad days” but said the way he has dealt with the devastating diagnosis and subsequent treatment has been humbling.
“I’ll never forget the day we were told,” said Alison, 40, an assistant project officer for employment for Hartlepool Borough Council.
“As parents, we are given that devastating diagnosis and all you want to be told is that your son is going to get better.
“But nobody can give you that guarantee.
“All you can do is face it and battle it and that’s exactly what Charlie has done, he’s amazing.”
It was February 2011 when Alison and Charlie’s dad Colin, 43, first realised something was wrong.
The youngster still hadn’t got over a cold he had picked up at Christmas time and was notably pale.
Alison added: “Other parents were saying their kids had had colds as well, everyone seems to at Christmas time.
“But Charlie went to a football party and where as all the other kids flushed pink, he stayed really pale.
“We just thought he must be anaemic or something like that, obviously you don’t even give cancer a thought.”
Alison and Colin, who live in the Hart Lane area of Hartlepool, took Charlie for check-ups and within 24 hours he had been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Six weeks of chemotherapy, blood transfusions, steroids and antiobiotics followed at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle.
And Charlie, a big Hartlepool United fan and regular at Victoria Park, then faced nine months of treatment.
After all the devastation and heartbreak, Charlie and his family finally received some good news when they were told the treatment had worked and the youngster is now in remission.
“He’s nine going on 15 now,” said Colin, an operations manager.
“He has been so accepting of it all, he’s got on with everything.
“Even at school, he has had to miss 21 per cent of school time this year but he hasn’t complained once.”
Mark Atkinson, Charlie’s headteacher at Throston Primary School was full of pride over the youngster’s achievements this year.
He said: “Despite everything that he has been through, he has still been the best performer in maths in Year 4, an incredible achievement.
“Charlie is an inspiration, he is doing superbly well.”