A nine-year-old boy has lost his five-year fight against childhood cancer neuroblastoma.
Zac Knighton-Smith died at home on New Year’s Day with his parents Sam Knighton and Bob Smith at his side.
He died after a brave five-year battle to beat the cancer which also claimed the life of his cousin, Chelsea Knighton, in August 2009 shortly before her fourth birthday.
His mum Sam said he wasn’t in any pain, but he had been very poorly over Christmas and they knew he didn’t have long when the disease spread to his liver.
She said: “We took him to America as our last-ditch attempt in November to a specialist oncologist, who was also a scientist.
“We found out then it had spread to his bone marrow.
“We knew then that we had one hell of a fight. But at that point it wasn’t in his liver.
“But that’s the nature of the disease, it can happen that quickly.”
Zac, of Rushden, was diagnosed with acute neuroblastoma in February 2009 after doctors found a 10cm tumour in his stomach.
He endured five years of operations, chemotherapy and treatment in both Germany and America.
The family also tried homeopathic treatments and followed a strict organic diet to help him beat the disease.
But Miss Knighton said: “All over Christmas he deteriorated.
“We knew he didn’t have long, he was poorly.
“Christmas will never be the same again.”
While the youngster loved anything to do with the Army, this turned out to be a battle he couldn’t win.
His mum said: “He was just Army mad – he loved soldiers and fighter jets and was absolutely fascinated with the World Wars.
“What things he didn’t know, he would look up on Google.
“He loved Call of Duty, and everything about the way he dealt with the disease was kick-ass.
“He refused to let anything get to him.
“He was fighting his own battle.”
The family will be holding a passing out parade for Zac at 12.15pm on Friday, January 17, at Bedford Crematorium.
Miss Knighton said they were hoping the procession could go past Zac’s school, Risdene Academy in Newton Road, Rushden, giving schoolfriends the chance to line the street and say goodbye.
But for now, Zac’s parents are trying to come to terms with the loss of their only child.
Miss Knighton said: “I just miss him, everything about him.
“It’s left such a massive hole.”
And she thanked all the people who have supported Zac during the past five years.
She said: “You mention his name in Rushden and everybody knows him.
“You only had to meet him once and he left a lasting impression.
“We had a lot of support, a lot of the money raised helped to pay for the trips to Germany and America.”
Fight to beat neuroblastoma
Any funds raised by Zac’s Fight Appeal, which has been raising money for his treatment, will now be used to help other children and their families fighting the disease.
Zac’s mum Sam Knighton said: “This country offers nothing for relapse neuroblastoma.
“If you take accidents out of the equation, this disease is the single biggest killer of children.
“How many more children have to die before something is done about it? This can’t be allowed to happen.”
For more details go to www.zacsappeal.becksnet.co.uk.