February 16, 2020

North east rivals Whitley Warriors and Billingham Stars face each other on the ice this afternoon in their latest on-ice battle.  But off the ice at the game today the two clubs and their supporters are helping a local teenager who has been hit with a devastating cancer diagnosis.

Josh Smith is the only boy in a family with three sisters, he is a typical cheeky 14 year old with an incredibly dry sense of humour and an even better outlook on life.

Unfortunately this is where the story changed.

A week or so before Christmas 2019, Josh had a knock whilst playing rugby for his local team. He complained his arm hurt a bit but he said he was fine, took painkillers and rested.

On New Years Day 2020 Josh told his mum that his arm was hurting more, so they went to the out of hours surgery for an emergency appointment. After an x-ray and other tests, the next day Josh was told to go to see a top consultant at Newcastle’s RVI hospital on Monday the 6th of January.

Two days later after numerous tests and a biopsy, the family hear the devastating news that Josh has osteosarcoma in his right shoulder.

Osteosarcoma is a type of cancer that produces immature bone. It is the most common type of cancer that arises in bones, and it is usually found at the end of long bones.  Most people diagnosed with osteosarcoma are under the age of 25, and it is thought to occur more often in males than females.

Josh had to go for further tests and was admitted to the teenage cancer unit at the RVI on the 13th January 2020, to start chemotherapy on Wednesday 15th.

At this point Josh and his family were told that he would be a patient of the teenage cancer unit for ten weeks to receive chemotherapy treatment.  At the end of this he will have an operation to remove the tumour with the best outcome being the cancer removal and limb salvage, followed by further extensive chemotherapy treatment.

Unfortunately things are worse than originally believed and on Tuesday 14th January the family were told that in addition to the aggressive cancer in his arm, it has also spread throughout his body to multiple sites.

Josh and his family are fighting this illness with everything they have and we all wish them well in their battle.

Supporters at the game tonight will be able to donate to a bucket collection at the rink, while there is also an online Go Fund Me page for those unable to make the game who may still wish to donate.

To donate online and read more about Josh go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/josh-vs-osteosarcoma-the-fight-begins