| 15.8°C Belfast

Brave Oscar Knox has shown us we can be so much more

In Pictures: Trainer gets death threats after using Oscar Knox's name in Facebook plug Close

Personal trainer Danielle Johnston

Personal trainer Danielle Johnston

Lanterns were released across Belfast to remember Oscar Knox. Pic Twitter

Lanterns were released across Belfast to remember Oscar Knox. Pic Twitter

Lanterns were released across Belfast to remember Oscar Knox. Pic Twitter

Lanterns were released across Belfast to remember Oscar Knox. Pic Twitter

The service for little Oscar Knox was held in St Bernard's Church, Glengormley. The procession started from the NI Children's Hospice and onwards to St Bernard's Church. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

The service for little Oscar Knox was held in St Bernard's Church, Glengormley. The procession started from the NI Children's Hospice and onwards to St Bernard's Church. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Lanterns were released across Belfast to remember Oscar Knox. Pic Twitter

Lanterns were released across Belfast to remember Oscar Knox. Pic Twitter

Monday 1st July  2013 - Oscar Knox took over the offices of First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Parliament Buildings

Monday 1st July 2013 - Oscar Knox took over the offices of First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Parliament Buildings

The service for little Oscar Knox was held in St Bernard's Church, Glengormley. The procession started from the NI Children's Hospice and onwards to St Bernard's Church. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

The service for little Oscar Knox was held in St Bernard's Church, Glengormley. The procession started from the NI Children's Hospice and onwards to St Bernard's Church. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Derry City fans pay tribute to Oscar Knox during the team's match against Shamrock Rovers, Friday May 9, 2014

Derry City fans pay tribute to Oscar Knox during the team's match against Shamrock Rovers, Friday May 9, 2014

Lorcan Doherty

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014
Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan

Stephen Knox carries his sons coffin at the funeral (Back)

The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014 Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan Stephen Knox carries his sons coffin at the funeral (Back) The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014
Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan

Stephen and Leona Knox follow their son Oscar's funeral

The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014 Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan Stephen and Leona Knox follow their son Oscar's funeral The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014
Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan

Stephen Knox carries his sons coffin at the funeral (Back)

The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014 Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan Stephen Knox carries his sons coffin at the funeral (Back) The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014
Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan

Family and friends carry the coffin to the church

The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014 Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan Family and friends carry the coffin to the church The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014
Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan

Family and friends carry the coffin to the church

The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014 Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan Family and friends carry the coffin to the church The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014
Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan
Large crowds gather for the funeral of Oscar Knox
The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014 Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan Large crowds gather for the funeral of Oscar Knox The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014
Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan
The funeral arrives at St Bernards church 

The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox Funeral - St Bernard's Glengormley - 11th May 2014 Copyright Presseye / Declan Roughan The funeral arrives at St Bernards church The funeral of Oscar Knox took place yesterday at St Bernard's Church in Glengormley. Oscar passed away after a long battle with cancer. The funeral procession made it's way from the NI Childrens Hospice in Glengormley to St Bernard's and then on for a private cremation.

Oscar Knox pictured with mum Leona and sister Izzie

Oscar Knox pictured with mum Leona and sister Izzie

The service for little Oscar Knox was held in St Bernard's Church, Glengormley. The procession started from the NI Children's Hospice and onwards to St Bernard's Church. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

The service for little Oscar Knox was held in St Bernard's Church, Glengormley. The procession started from the NI Children's Hospice and onwards to St Bernard's Church. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Sunday Life Spirit Of Northern Ireland  overall winner Oscar Knox with Olympic Boxer Paddy Barnes at the awards dinner in the Culloden Hotel Holywood Friday 14th June 2013

Sunday Life Spirit Of Northern Ireland overall winner Oscar Knox with Olympic Boxer Paddy Barnes at the awards dinner in the Culloden Hotel Holywood Friday 14th June 2013

Celtic v Cliftonville, Champions League second qualifying round second leg - 23 July 2013. Oscar Knox with Celtic skipper Scott Brown ahead of the Celtic v Cliftonville match

Celtic v Cliftonville, Champions League second qualifying round second leg - 23 July 2013. Oscar Knox with Celtic skipper Scott Brown ahead of the Celtic v Cliftonville match

The service for little Oscar Knox was held in St Bernard's Church, Glengormley. The procession started from the NI Children's Hospice and onwards to St Bernard's Church. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

The service for little Oscar Knox was held in St Bernard's Church, Glengormley. The procession started from the NI Children's Hospice and onwards to St Bernard's Church. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Oscar pictured in 2012 with the flag that made him an overnight internet sensation as he was allowed to stay up late to watch that year's European Championship matches

Oscar pictured in 2012 with the flag that made him an overnight internet sensation as he was allowed to stay up late to watch that year's European Championship matches

Oscar Knox being held by his mother Leona in hospital. This photo was posted by Oscar's family on October 13, 2012

Oscar Knox being held by his mother Leona in hospital. This photo was posted by Oscar's family on October 13, 2012

Former Celtic player John Hartson and Oscar Knox

Former Celtic player John Hartson and Oscar Knox

March 25, 2013 Little Oscar Know steals the show during a  'FEARLESS' press conference at Belfast City Hall. The event has been put together for the night which will feature Irish title fights with  all profits going directly to The Oscar Knox Appeal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

March 25, 2013 Little Oscar Know steals the show during a 'FEARLESS' press conference at Belfast City Hall. The event has been put together for the night which will feature Irish title fights with all profits going directly to The Oscar Knox Appeal. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

May 1, 2013 - Oscar Knox pictured at New Forge country club with Ulster Rugby's Paddy McAllister

May 1, 2013 - Oscar Knox pictured at New Forge country club with Ulster Rugby's Paddy McAllister

Sunday Life Spirit Of Northern Ireland  over-all winner Oscar Knox at the awards dinner in the Culloden Hotel Holywood, Friday 14th June 2013

Sunday Life Spirit Of Northern Ireland over-all winner Oscar Knox at the awards dinner in the Culloden Hotel Holywood, Friday 14th June 2013

Oscar Knox's family posted this photo on Twitter last month, saying: "I got back on my feet and walked 20 metres today, everyone was SO proud of me!"

Oscar Knox's family posted this photo on Twitter last month, saying: "I got back on my feet and walked 20 metres today, everyone was SO proud of me!"

Easter Sunday brought a tweet carrying with it a photo of this wonderful boy Oscar Knox and his sister, Izzie, surrounded by Easter eggs.

Easter Sunday brought a tweet carrying with it a photo of this wonderful boy Oscar Knox and his sister, Izzie, surrounded by Easter eggs.

Oscar Knox, who is battling high-risk neuroblastoma, pictured celebrating his fourth birthday

Oscar Knox, who is battling high-risk neuroblastoma, pictured celebrating his fourth birthday

Oscar Knox with his father Stephen at Celtic's Parkhead last year

Oscar Knox with his father Stephen at Celtic's Parkhead last year

Presseye

 Leona Knox watches as Oscar opens his presents at Christmas 2012

Leona Knox watches as Oscar opens his presents at Christmas 2012

 Close family: Oscar with mum Leona, dad Stephen and sister Izzie

Close family: Oscar with mum Leona, dad Stephen and sister Izzie

Presseye Northern Ireland - 23 July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo - Rob Hardie/ Presseye

Oscar Knox with Celtic skipper Scott Brown during Tuesday evenings Celtic v Cliftonville Champions League, 2nd qualifying round, 2nd leg match at Parkhead, Glasgow Scotland

Presseye Northern Ireland - 23 July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo - Rob Hardie/ Presseye Oscar Knox with Celtic skipper Scott Brown during Tuesday evenings Celtic v Cliftonville Champions League, 2nd qualifying round, 2nd leg match at Parkhead, Glasgow Scotland

Presseye

 Oscar blowing the candle out on his birthday cake with dad Stephen

Oscar blowing the candle out on his birthday cake with dad Stephen

Oscar Knox photo from twitter today.

Oscar Knox photo from twitter today.

Oscar Knox enjoying a day out in the park

Oscar Knox enjoying a day out in the park

Oscar Knox in hospital from Twitter in October, 2012

Oscar Knox in hospital from Twitter in October, 2012

Little fighter: Oscar Knox

Little fighter: Oscar Knox

Oscar Knox arrives home from America via air ambulance

Oscar Knox arrives home from America via air ambulance

Olympic bronze medalists Paddy Barnes (left) and Michael Conlan at the gala ball in aid of Oscar Knox

Olympic bronze medalists Paddy Barnes (left) and Michael Conlan at the gala ball in aid of Oscar Knox

Oscar Knox

Oscar Knox

Oscar Knox in Philadelphia

Oscar Knox in Philadelphia

Oscar Knox pictured with mum Leona

Oscar Knox pictured with mum Leona

Michael Deane with Oscar Knox

Michael Deane with Oscar Knox

Oscar Knox

Oscar Knox

Sinn Fein Cllr Tierna Cunningham and Belfast Lord Mayor DUP Gavin Robinson with Oscar

Sinn Fein Cllr Tierna Cunningham and Belfast Lord Mayor DUP Gavin Robinson with Oscar

Oscar Knox

Oscar Knox

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -  Saturday 14th June 2013 - Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Overall Spirit of NI Winner Wee Oscar Knox Presented by, Martin Breen, Tony McGinn and Britain's Got Talent Finalist  Jordan O'Keefe

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 14th June 2013 - Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Overall Spirit of NI Winner Wee Oscar Knox Presented by, Martin Breen, Tony McGinn and Britain's Got Talent Finalist Jordan O'Keefe

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -  Saturday 14th June 2013 - Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Overall Spirit of NI Winner Wee Oscar Knox Presented by, Martin Breen, Tony McGinn and Britain's Got Talent Finalist  Jordan O'Keefe

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 14th June 2013 - Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Overall Spirit of NI Winner Wee Oscar Knox Presented by, Martin Breen, Tony McGinn and Britain's Got Talent Finalist Jordan O'Keefe

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -  Saturday 14th June 2013 - Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Overall Spirit of NI Winner Wee Oscar Knox with his mum Leona

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 14th June 2013 - Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Overall Spirit of NI Winner Wee Oscar Knox with his mum Leona

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -  Saturday 14th June 2013 - Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Julian Simmons, Paddy Barnes & Wee Oscar Knox

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 14th June 2013 - Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Julian Simmons, Paddy Barnes & Wee Oscar Knox

Oscar Knox (4) has been fighting neuroblastoma for 18 months

Oscar Knox (4) has been fighting neuroblastoma for 18 months

Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Overall winner Wee Oscar Knox presented by Martin Breen and Britain's Got Talent Finalist Jordan O'Keefe

Sunday Life Spirit of Northern Ireland Awards. Overall winner Wee Oscar Knox presented by Martin Breen and Britain's Got Talent Finalist Jordan O'Keefe

Personal trainer Danielle Johnston

They are just 14 words looking out over an ocean of grief, raising profound questions that even the most learned wrestle with.

"I don't want to be a boy anymore. I don't want to be me."

Words from Wee Oscar Knox.

Even typing them brings tears to the eyes. Thinking about them chills the heart.

The news that that the Glengormley boy – battling high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare and aggressive childhood cancer, since November 2011 – has been moved to the children's hospice should give us all a pause to reflect.

Oscar's bravery shames us as we go about our petty lives, moaning about that late bus, or that missed promotion. Easter Sunday brought a tweet carrying with it a photo of this wonderful boy and his sister, Izzie, surrounded by Easter eggs. It could be any brother and sister, but then you notice the nasal tube on Oscar's face. This is the ordinary rite of every family, rendered unbearably poignant.

We only think we know about life; but we know much less about it than this five-year-old boy. We can barely comprehend the sufferings of Wee Oscar's parents, Leona and Stephen, who have fought every inch of the way in trying to get help for their child, raising both awareness of neuroblastoma and money to fund treatment. As Leona said in her latest post on her blog, the couple have been "pushed to the limit of what any parent could tolerate in terms of watching their child suffer".

From what place do they get the courage to endure as their child screams in agony while morphine, sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs are administered round the clock? But, of course, we know from where Stephen and Leona find courage: from love and, in the final analysis, from Wee Oscar himself.

Further Reading

We hear the word 'love' used in a myriad of forms hundreds of times a day. From banal pronouncements of loving this or that TV programme to cheesy pop songs to some would-be Lothario declaring his endless love for you (babe). But how often to we think of it as this – the most indomitable, formidable force in the world?

And who wouldn't draw strength from Oscar? As Leona reveals, a consultant told her a few weeks ago: "Your son doesn't do giving up." In that sense, he is very much their boy. They may marvel at his courage, but he has drawn it down from them. They don't do giving up, either.

Inspired by them, neither do we. The story of Oscar Knox has brought us all closer together and shown the very best side of us, as a people united, Catholic and Protestant.

We responded to the campaign launched by Stephen and Leona to raise funds to send Oscar to the States for treatment. When Leona won the Belfast Telegraph's Mum of the Year award two years ago, hundreds of people rose to their feet as she made her way to the stage. It was everyone's way of showing we were standing shoulder to shoulder with her family all the way. And the people have kept their promise. They turned up at the City Hall earlier this year to donate blood in Oscar's name. Sports stars like Belfast boxers Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan and Carl Frampton have gone into the ring for the little boy and his family.

The first ministers welcomed Oscar in another natty outfit to Stormont and continue to tweet support. We were all Team Oscar and for a while, too, it seemed we were winning.

We all know there are dark aspects to our character – we saw that on the Springfield Road in Belfast on Good Friday. But the exact opposite of that, its polar extreme, is the cause of Oscar Knox and our allegiance to him, across the divide, across the classes, and, thanks to the much-abused sport of football, across the Old Firm divide in real and moving tribute and support.

There is empathy which responds to courage, a brave spirit and a simple nature which both shames us and comes from us. Oscar has shown us that we can be so much more than our petty nature.

When we think of Oscar – and many are thinking of him and his family at this very minute – we should think of that sunny smile, that cheeky face, that thumb's up from the hospital bed, that brave and simple disposition which has refused to be broken. That grin rebukes us when we think life cheap, or to be met with cynicism.

It's not just our sympathy and our support and our time and our money he deserves. Oscar Knox's cause has made us individually better people and, importantly, a better people as a whole.

For that, more than anything, he deserves our gratitude.

Follow me on Twitter: @GWalker9

Belfast Telegraph