Belfast Telegraph

Oscar Knox's mum speaks about her boy's brave cancer fight

By Amanda Ferguson

Four months after the death of Oscar Knox, his griefstricken mother has opened her heart for the first time about her brave little boy who inspired so many.

'Wee Oscar' passed away in May aged just five after a long battle against a rare form of cancer.

Mum Leona Knox told her story as the Neuroblastoma Children's Cancer Alliance (NCCA UK) prepares to pay tribute to her son at an awareness event this Friday.

The charity with its 10 ft high craft elephant will be at the Children's Hospital in Belfast to "make a noise about childhood cancer" through its Don't Ignore The Elephant In The Room campaign.

Leona, from Mallusk, told the Belfast Telegraph the passing of her little boy was "every bit the nightmare you think it's going to be".

But the campaigning mother said she is surviving with help from her loved ones and the public.

"I didn't think I could cope with my child having cancer, I didn't think I could cope with him dying – but you don't have a choice," she said.

"We have so much support from family, friends, the public and all the after-care services."

Leona explained four-year-old Izzie, who has just started her second year at pre-school playgroup, misses her big brother very much. "She misses him terribly," Leona said.

"Me and Stephen get most of the sympathy and sometimes people forget a bit about Izzie.

"She's so lonely. Some of the things she says, it would break your heart to hear."

Leona, husband Stephen and little Izzie are thrilled Oscar's battle with cancer, which touched the hearts of tens of thousands of people across the world, is helping highlight that September is childhood cancer awareness month and they look forward to attending Friday's event.

"The London-based charity helps kids in the UK but it's also moving into Ireland," Leona said.

"Through Don't Ignore The Elephant In The Room they will be highlighting a different issue each day."

The elephant, followed on its journey by bikers, will be decorated with pictures of children fighting childhood cancer, including a big photograph of Oscar wearing a tuxedo at an event at the Fitzwilliam Hotel.

It was supported by late Ulster Rugby star Nevin Spence, chef Michael Deane and broadcaster Adrian Logan among others.

"We are delighted he has been included, as it is really important to acknowledge he did really fight," added Leona.

"He did all he could. It acknowledges these kids have a tough battle on their hands."



In 2011 Oscar Knox was diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma, which affects one in every 100,000 children. He also had the chromosome-disorder, Jacobsen Syndrome, which is thought to affect only 250 children worldwide. The boy became something of a celebrity and £600,000 was raised for The Oscar Knox Appeal prior to his death on May 5 this year. On Friday Oscar's picture will be part of the "Don't ignore the elephant in the room" campaign, by the Neuroblastoma Children's Cancer Alliance UK to raise awareness of childhood cancer.

“At every venue we’re meeting families like Oscar’s where parents’ lives have been turned on their heads by childhood cancer,” says NCCA UK Chief Executive, Bettina Bungay-Balwah. 

“We want the government to hear the need to focus attention specifically on children’s cancer and understand the unique pressures it entails, separate to those of adult cancers.”

For more about the work of NCCA UK visit

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