Outpouring of support as family pic shows Oscar Knox enjoying Easter
The family of Oscar Knox has been inundated with messages of support after a heartwarming photo of the little boy fighting a rare form of children's cancer enjoying Easter was released.
Oscar's parents Stephen and Leona have driven a major social media campaign throughout the five-year-old's illness.
They have documented his journey and raised awareness around blood donation, as well as fundraising to fight cancer.
The endearing picture posted on Easter Sunday shows Oscar and his little sister Izzie both smiling, surrounded by Easter eggs and with the message "Happy Easter everyone!"
The picture comes just days after Leona spoke about their heartbreaking decision to bring Oscar to the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice.
Within hours of the photograph being put online it received 21,388 'likes' on Facebook.
Among the many messages on Twitter, one said: "Happy Easter wee man" and another posted: "Happy Easter! Enjoy all those yummy eggs!" Another member of the public said: "Oscar in your Easter Egg avalanche! You'll have to eat your way out!"
Another simply said: "Best picture of the day." Many others said the little boy and his family were in their thoughts. "We're all praying hard for you wee man!!," one Twitter post said.
Little Oscar, from Mallusk in Co Antrim, has touched the hearts of people with his brave fight since being diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma – a rare and aggressive childhood cancer – in November 2011.
He was given the all-clear last April but in a matter of months the cancer had returned and his family described how their world had come "crumbling down around us" again.
In the latest update to an online diary documenting Oscar's fight, Leona wrote: "In the past four weeks Oscar has suffered more pain than we could have imagined, and more anguish than any five-year-old should ever know."
She said that she and husband Stephen had been "pushed to the limit of what any parent could tolerate in terms of watching their child suffer".
Among the thousands of people sending their support was Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who said: "Our prayers and the candle on our windowsill tonight are for @Wee_Oscar and his wonderful family."
In 2011 Oscar Knox (5), from Mallusk, was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, which affects one in every 100,000 children. He also has the chromosome disorder Jacobsen syndrome, which is thought to affect only 250 children worldwide.
Oscar has received more than 30 blood transfusions and almost 140 platelet transfusions in the past 26 months. Oscar's parents Stephen and Leona run a blog and fundraising campaign, The Wee Oscar Knox Appeal. Around 140,000 people follow Oscar on Facebook and Twitter @Wee_Oscar