Belfast Telegraph

Spirit of Oscar Knox lives on as gala hails child cancer superheroes

By Amanda Ferguson

Wee Oscar Knox has been remembered at a special charity event in Belfast to highlight childhood cancer.

The Neuroblastoma Children's Cancer Alliance (NCCA UK) paid tribute to the five-year-old Mallusk boy and other children who have lost their battle with cancer at a special event yesterday attended by Batman and Queen Elsa from children's movie Frozen.

The charity was at the Children's Hospital on the Falls Road in Belfast with its 10ft high craft elephant to "make a noise about childhood cancer" through its 'Don't ignore the elephant in the room' campaign.

The elephant was decorated with posters of children, including Oscar, who died in May.

Oscar's mother Leona said: "September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month so NCCA have launched this big initiative to travel all round the UK highlighting five important issues about childhood cancer, mainly 'don't ignore the elephant in the room'. It is the second biggest killer of kids after accidents.

"We are here to make a big, massive noise about childhood cancer and get everyone to start paying more attention to it, particularly government and the funding of research and treatment.

"Oscar's picture is on the side of the 10ft elephant that is travelling all around. It's really emotional to see that but we are delighted and really proud of him."

Oscar's father Stephen added: "There is so much focus, funding and research on adult cancers that childhood cancer largely gets forgotten about.

"Around one child a week here is diagnosed with cancer so it is a big deal."

Oscar's spirited little sister Izzie enjoyed chatting to Queen Elsa who attended the awareness and fundraising event.

The four-year-old, who misses her big brother terribly, sang songs with Queen Elsa and told her she had "dreams about Oscar".

Batman told the Belfast Telegraph that kids like Oscar who battle cancer so bravely "are the real superheroes".

"Superman, Spiderman and myself met Oscar earlier this year," Batman said. "Bringing happiness to a wee kid like Oscar was brilliant and seeing others kids battling in hospital, I can say they are very, very courageous."

Children's Hospital patient Cormac Donegan (4) from Derry popped out from the ward in his Spiderman pyjamas to have a chat with Batman.

Cormac's mother Caroline said: "Cormac has just arrived this morning for an operation and hopefully we are home tomorrow or Monday. He is a big superhero fan so when he heard Batman was here he was gone."

The NCCA UK elephant was escorted through the streets of Belfast by a group of bikers.

Among the charity riders from London was Peter Hase, who said: "We are going up through Edinburgh, here in Belfast, down to Dublin, then Wales and home. We have ridden around 650 miles so far and we will do over 1,000."

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"We are trying to get out there that there are a lot more issues than funding out there at the moment. Each day we are campaign ing about what those issues are. Today our issue is that pharmaceutical companies get to use a waiver not to test their drugs on childhood cancer because there is not enough profit there for them and we think that is wrong and so we would like a policy to stop that. This stop in Belfast with Oscar's family is really important to us."

NCCA UK chief executive Bettina Bungay-Balwah

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