An inspirational Stalybridge teenager with 10,000 followers on YouTube has helped to host a special awards show celebrating the courage of children diagnosed with cancer.
Liam Preece was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in June 2020.
Now, for the courage he has showed throughout his treatment, he has received a Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People Star Award, in partnership with TK Maxx.
Alder Community High School pupil Liam helped to host the virtual awards show which was filmed to highlight the impact cancer has on young lives and encourage more nominations.
The touching film sees the recipients deliver heart-warming acceptance speeches, as well as ‘strut their stuff’ on a red carpet and break-out their best dance moves in celebration of the award.
Liam, who is brother to siblings Chloe, 20, Callum 16 and five-year-old Theo, stopped wanting to go for walks during lockdown or playing football after developing a pain in his knee and becoming aware of a lump.
Mum Jodie assumed Liam may have pulled a ligament, so she took him to Tameside General Hospital where he had a scan.
Jodie was dumbfounded to be told Liam had cancer.
The tumour had been growing in the knee, but the cancer had already started to spread to other parts of his body.
Manchester United fan Liam began chemotherapy at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
He then needed surgery and was referred to The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London.
Liam was initially warned he may lose his leg. But instead doctors were able to remove the tumour and fitted Liam with a titanium femur, knee and tibia.
Sporty Liam threw his energies into physio and rehabilitation every week including balance work and hydrotherapy.
He continued with chemotherapy treatment, but this had to be stopped due to repeated infections.
At the lowest point, Liam’s mouth was so blistered that he went 10 days without eating or drinking.
He became dangerously ill in December of last year with sepsis. But made a good enough recovery to return to school earlier this year.
Sadly, Liam relapsed in June and the cancer is now in both of his lungs.
He has faced more chemotherapy and recently underwent surgery to have nodules on his lungs removed.
In 2020, Liam started a YouTube channel to show others who are going through cancer what it’s like and what to expect.
He now has more than 10,000 followers.
“There are no words to describe how it feels to be told your child has got cancer,” said Mum Jodie Conroy, aged 37. “Your whole world crumbles.
“When Liam was very poorly a year ago, I could barely recognise him as my own child. He just looked so pale and drawn. It was very hard.
“The rollercoaster of emotions has been immensely difficult. But Liam continues to be brave, happy, smiling and full of wit and laughter. He has kept the whole family going.
“To go from being a young teenager who loved being with his friends, playing football to then being in a wheelchair is very sad.
“Liam is an amazing boy with a heart of gold and a beautiful soul.
“He’s selfless and no words can describe how proud I am to be his mum.”
Liam said: “Having cancer puts you in a panic mode. It’s not like you can get on with your day without thinking about it.
“I’m keen to help others going through the same ordeal and that’s why I created the YouTube channel.”
Around 190 children in the North West are diagnosed with cancer every year.
The Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People Star Awards are open to all children under 18 who live in the UK and have been treated for cancer within the past five years.
There is no judging panel because the charity believes every child diagnosed with cancer deserves special recognition.
Every eligible child who is nominated receives a trophy, a £50 TK Maxx gift card, a t-shirt and a certificate signed by celebrities supporting the campaign. Their siblings also receive a certificate.
“Liam and his family are all absolute stars who have been through so much since his diagnosis,” said Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People spokesperson for the North West.
“It has been a total privilege to be able to celebrate his courage with a Star Award. He did a fabulous job helping to host the special show
“Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults, from the types of cancer to the impact of treatment – and many youngsters may experience serious long-term side effects.
“That’s why we’re supporting dedicated research to ensure more children and young people survive cancer with a good quality of life.
“We’re urging people across Greater Manchester to nominate inspirational children like Liam now, so that many more can receive the acknowledgement they so richly deserve.”
The Star Awards are run in partnership with TK Maxx, the biggest corporate supporter of Cancer Research UK’s work into children’s and young people’s cancers.
Since 2004, the retailer has raised more than £40m for vital research to help improve survival and reduce the long-term side effects of treatments.
The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital is one of the many centres across the UK taking part in ground-breaking clinical trials coordinated by Cancer Research UK’s Children’s Cancer Trials Team.
These trials make innovative new treatments available to children with cancer across the region.
To nominate a star, visit cruk.org/starawards.