Mum's heartbreaking reason not to tell five-year-old son he's dying

Samuel Hussey
News Reporter


Hannah White said she is now trying to make son Joshua Oakhill’s final months as enjoyable as possible. Images: Supplied

A young mum from Eden, New South Wales, Australia, has made the heartbreaking decision not to tell her terminally ill five-year-old son he has less than one year to live.

For almost one third of his short life Joshua Oakhill has been battling rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of soft tissue cancer that has been attacking his liver.

He was on holiday with his two younger sisters and adoring mother Hannah when he first fell ill in 2016.

While scans revealed a mass bigger than 10cm on Josh’s liver, the 23-year-old mum was told Josh had a 95 per cent chance of surviving. She now knows that is no longer the case.

Since then the bubbly youngster has undergone more than 40 cycles of chemotherapy and 24 cycles of radiation treatment. But in March this year, further scans showed Josh was relapsing.

“That was the hardest day of my life,” Hannah told Yahoo as she choked back tears.

“Doctors have told us there is nothing else they can do for him.

“Anything at this point will only prolong his life, but nothing will cure the cancer.”

Josh’s mum said there is nothing more doctors can do for the brave five-year-old. Image: Supplied

Still coming to terms with the enormity of the situation, the mother-of-three said she doesn’t want her son to spend his final months thinking about his mortality.

“He doesn’t know what’s happening, he knows he’s sick, he just doesn’t know his fate has already been handed down to him,” Hannah explained.

“He is still a very bubbly energetic boy… I don’t think I will tell him, there is no point ruining what time he has left.”

Determined to now make the most of what little time they have left together, Hannah has helped Josh write a bucket list – with a normal day at school the first order of business.

“He’s been so desperate to go to school for the last year and a half but he hasn’t been allowed to because of how low his immune system is,” Hannah explained.

(Left) Josh and his trusty Batman teddy tuck into some Fortnite. (Right) Josh receives a visit from his hero, GWS Giants player Adam Tomlinson. Images: Supplied

“He has done a bit of day care but once he got sick with cancer, he really couldn’t do anything.

“He wants to go in the full school uniform and make it a proper experience.”

As well as meeting Batman and the Lego man, Josh wants to go for a ride in a boat, up front in a plane and in an Australia Post van.

After meeting some of his heroes at the GWS Giants, a professional Australian rules football club, last year, Josh is now desperate to have a kick of the footy with some of the players – none more so than his favourite player, Adam Tomlinson.

Jeremy Cameron leads a chrous of Giants players taking part in the #doitforJoshie chicken dance. Image: Supplied

Even with a finals campaign just around the corner, the entire team and coaching staff took a moment out for training this week to take part in the #doitforJoshie chicken dance routine.

“He adores the Giants, they are just amazing to him… Adam comes down whenever he can, he’s been incredible,” Hannah said.

Aware time is now critical, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help make Josh’s dreams come true.