When faced with dire circumstances of any kind, it's normal and expected to retreat into yourself for a while. Grief is something you have to take time to process fully, something that usually desires solitude, rest, and stagnation for a while as you let yourself really work through that feeling.
Some people, though, when faced with grief, find moments of inspiration. They'll rise above their own feelings and instead use that push to help others instead, dissipating their own negative response and forcing it into something positive. This is exactly what happened to one brave young boy who, when facing death, decided to help someone else instead.
The Worst News
Rhys Langford was only 17 when he was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. He underwent many months of very intensive treatment, including chemotherapy and surgery, all with the hopes that he would pull through.
His first round of treatment ended just under a year later, but the cancer returned within months, and not only that, but it was spreading fast this time. Doctors then had to resign that there was nothing they could do to stop its progression. Rhys' cancer was terminal.
However, Rhys decided that he wasn't just going to wait out the rest of his days. He wanted to do something good with the last bit of energy he had left, something that could fight cancer in his stead if he couldn't fight his own.
Through his treatment, he heard about the story of a six-year-old boy named Jacob Jones. He lived in the same town as Rhys and was also battling a rather rare cancer called neuroblastoma, which forms in the early stages of nerve cell development that begin in the womb.
"Rhys found the story of little Jacob. He called me upstairs and he was crying in bed reading the story," Rhys' mother, Catherine, told the Daily Mail.
His Final Wish
Rhys immediately knew he wanted to do something to help Jacob with his own treatment, wanting to help another child survive cancer if he could not. "He said, 'Mum, I want to donate some money to him," said Catherine. “He's six years of age and he’s been ill since he was two. I’d be over the moon if someone would save him.’ I couldn’t believe he was thinking about someone else when he’s on death’s door himself.”
So, he donated his entire life savings at that point (£1,000, roughly $1,275) and started a GoFundMe titled 'Rhys's dying wish! To help Jacob fight again.'
"I know nothing can be done for me now but as one of my many last wishes I would like to help Jacob and help him fight this awful disease," Rhys wrote on the page.
"I know what the treatments and awful drugs do to your body! It's hell. Jacob is now six and has been fighting this disease most of his life. It should not be this way! Jacob's family are looking to raise money again for treatment."
People found his story valiant, inspiring, and also incredibly bittersweet. Within days, the fundraiser had passed £10,000 ($13,544), which was already an incredible amount that would relieve so much of Jacob and his parents' burden.
His Wish, Fulfilled
It didn't stop there, though. Rhys' story got a lot of traction and made its way around various local and online circles, gaining new donations left and right by people who were touched by his generosity. After all was said and done, the total amount raised was £67,350, almost $86,000.
Unfortunately, during that time, Rhys did pass away. In a post, his mother wrote, "My warrior, my hero, my son, my baby, has given up his fight. He lay down his sword and died peacefully at home with all his family around him, he closed his eyes for the last time at around 7 p.m. yesterday evening. We are heartbroken. My life will never be the same again. A part of me has died also. He battled a long hard fight."
Honoring His Kindness
On a Facebook page dedicated to Jacob's fight with his own cancer, Jacob's mother wrote a post in Rhys' honor. That post reads, "I wanted to let everyone know that Jacob's hero Rhys has sadly passed away, our thoughts are with his family at this sad time. Fly high Rhys and we are all so proud and thankful for what you did for our Jacob."
A few months after his passing, Rhys was posthumously given the Unsung Hero award at the Who Cares Wins Health Awards from that year. In response to the award, Jacob's mom said, "How one boy could be so selfless to help another is just beyond words. Rhys was suffering so much yet all he wanted to do with his last few weeks on earth was help someone else. We'll always be thankful to him for helping our son. We don't know where we’d be without him."
Generosity In Darkness
Though Rhys' passing was nothing but tragic, there is some good news to be had. Jacob is cancer-free, in no small part due to Rhys' incredible end-of-life fundraising. His type of cancer was very aggressive, so he still undergoes regular checks and has had a few scares, but he's currently healthy, happy, and just turned eight years old a few weeks ago.
One brave young man's final, selfless wish truly helped a child live on and defeat cancer. Rhys' legacy will never be forgotten, not just by his and Jacob's family, but by anyone who hears this incredible story and keeps his giving spirit in their hearts.