After a three-year battle with rare blood cancer, 11-year-old Oliver Brown of Devon, United Kingdom, whose family celebrated Christmas early out of fears he may not make it, died on Saturday evening, Nov. 2.
Oliver was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), a type of cancer that affects a person’s bone marrow by inhibiting its ability to produce enough “functioning blood cells.” The condition is more common in older adults and is relatively rare: About 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with MDS each year, Cancer.Net estimates.
Before his death, Oliver underwent two marrow transplants and received various other treatments. In May, his condition failed to improve and deteriorated to the point that his family was concerned he may not live until Christmas—a holiday that he particularly enjoyed.
And last week, to have “loving, cheeky, compassionate, [and] brave” Oliver a Merry Christmas, his family decided to celebrate a bit early this year.
The house was decorated with Christmas decorations, with lights, fake snowmen, a tree, and more. A life-size singing Santa Claus was added, as was a Lego Winter Village that included a moving train, per SWNS.
Oliver’s father, Mike said Oliver’s brother Benjamin had just one Christmas wish this year—that he could put the decorations up with his brother.
“We wanted to make that happen so they could experience Christmas on last time together,” Mike added.
He added, “Oliver took the last three years in his stride. He absorbed it all and made it easy for everyone else around him. If someone asked him how he was, he would always say he was fine, despite talking with us how tough he was finding it.”
“Whatever Oliver has faced in life he has done with a smile on his face and love in his heart,” his mother, Nicky said. “There has been more laughter than tears in the last three years and we want to remember Oliver like that.”
Earlier this year, the family spent a day with Devon and Cornwall Police, because Oliver had always wanted to be a policeman, per SWNS.
Though just 11, “he has undergone so much, far more than any adult would expect to go through in their entire life,” his mother said.