God's answered our prayers, say family of Joshua as cancer teen's condition shows big improvement
The parents of a teen battling an aggressive cancer have thanked thousands of well-wishers for their support after an improvement in their son's condition.
Joshua Martin from Donaghadee, Co Down, was diagnosed with the disease on Christmas Eve last year.
The 13-year-old Bangor Grammar School pupil was rushed to hospital with suspected appendicitis.
But Joshua and his family were devastated when doctors discovered numerous tumours in his abdomen during surgery.
"After three very long and painful months of invasive surgery, chemo and living at the Royal (Belfast Hospital for Sick Children), we finally have some good news to report," his parents Kim and Tim Martin said in a statement.
"Joshua had CT scans today which show that one of the tumours is shrinking and there is no new disease.
"His other tumours have remained the same size, this is a fantastic result as this is a very aggressive cancer and we thank God for answered prayer."
Joshua has already had one primary tumour and five secondary tumours removed, but others were deemed to be inoperable.
The deeply religious Martin family have turned to their faith for strength during what they said was an "incredibly stressful time" but have also gathered support from thousands of well-wishers via social media.
His struggle against the disease captured the hearts of thousands of strangers from around the world who sent messages of support via the #PrayforJosh hashtag on Twitter.
A roadside billboard bearing the hashtag #PrayforJosh could even be seen by motorists travelling between Belfast and Bangor.
His father Tim is a pastor at Bangor Elim Church where he has held special prayer meetings for his son.
Joshua's family also wrote at the delight of having their son home before his next round of chemotherapy treatment, which began on Saturday.
"We've managed to get Joshua home for a couple of days respite before his next chemo, he has been relatively pain free and is managing to even take a few steps. Yeah!" they said. "Thank you for all your prayers, messages and support. And praise God for answered prayer! Please, please keep praying for full and complete healing."
Josh's parents said they hoped their son would recover some strength in his legs so that he could walk and run again.
The family said: "Please also pray for Tim, David and me for continued strength as it's been an incredibly stressful time for the whole family.
"Wouldn't it be amazing if our next update was to report a miracle of complete healing!
"We are praying and believing that by His stripes Joshua is healed."
The teen's fight for life has touched the hearts of thousands around the globe with people from as far afield as the United States showing their support for Josh.
"Here in California we continue to pray for Joshua, I am reminding our friends to keep him in prayer," wrote Ann Robinson from California.
Even golfing superstar Sergio Garcia acknowledged the young lad's bravery, writing on Twitter: "Sending love and good vibes to Josh and his family."
Former Northern Ireland champion boxer Wayne McCullough also lent his support, posing with a #PrayforJosh sign.
The one-time WBC bantamweight champion wrote on Facebook: "Praying for a miracle for 13 year old Northern Ireland boy Josh Martin." The Martin family have previously asked readers of the Belfast Telegraph to pray for their son.
"We believe in a miracle-working God and that God is the same yesterday, today and forever and so we would ask every Belfast Telegraph reader to join us in asking God for complete healing for Joshua," they said.
"Please spread the word with #prayforjosh.
"We can't thank everyone enough for all they have done for us.
"In particular we would like to thank the amazing team at the Royal who have looked after Joshua - they have been simply incredible, and we are so grateful."
Story so far
Joshua Martin was rushed to hospital in December last year with what was thought to be appendicitis. On Christmas Eve, doctors discovered numerous tumours throughout his abdomen and he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. One primary tumour and five secondary tumours were removed. Several other tumours are deemed to be inoperable but have not grown since Joshua began treatment. Joshua is now undergoing a fifth round of chemotherapy.