A heartbroken mother has paid tribute to her four-year-old son who was buried in a Peter Pan costume after dying of cancer – calling him the ‘boy who will never grow up’.
Noah Carrick, from Liverpool, was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of one – and had worn his favourite superhero outfit for every treatment.
He suffered from rare form of cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma, and after various efforts to treat it Noah lost his battle in March this year.
His final outfit, which he wore in his tiny coffin, was a Peter Pan costume. And instead of a hearse, he travelled in a fire engine.
Four-year-old Noah Carrick (pictured with his parents Keith and Claire) lost his battle with cancer earlier this year
Mother Claire, 35, said: ‘Noah is the little boy who will never grow old so it seemed fitting that he should dress as Peter Pan for his final send-off.
‘His whole life was a rollercoaster ride of hospitals and treatment programmes. But he learned to deal with it head-on.
‘He marched into the clinics dressed as one of his superheroes, Ironman, Captain America and his favourite, Spider-Man.
‘He assumed the character as soon as he put the outfit on and that gave him the courage and the belief to get through his treatment.
Noah was buried in his Peter Pan costume (seen here), a nod to the fact that he is the ‘boy who never grew up’
Noah was born with a birthmark on his back which turned out to be cancerous tumour when he and was given urgent chemotherapy, which he always had dressed as a superhero
Noah travelled in a fire engine (pictured) rather than a hearse after his fight with cancer came to an end in March this year
‘Even when he was sick, he was busy thumping me with Thor’s plastic hammer! He had battles with the nurses dressed as Captain America and Spider-Man himself came to visit him on the ward one day.
‘He never really knew it, but Noah was the biggest hero of all.’
Noah was born in June 2013, and was Claire and Keith’s first child together.
Claire says: ‘My pregnancy went well and when Noah was born, I was over the moon.’
Tests revealed the cancerous tumour had managed to wrap around Noah’s kidneys and spine at just 16 months old
Noah assumed the character of different superheros complete with outfit to get through each treatment he underwent
Noah whose favourite superhero was Superman is an ‘inspiration’ to his parents who are in awe of his upbeat attitude
Noah was a healthy, happy baby, but doctors spotted a tiny birthmark on his back which doctors said would shrink as he grew older.
Claire says: ‘I had a similar mark on my face when I was born so I wasn’t at all worried.’
But in time the mark grew bigger. Claire added: ‘The doctors still insisted they thought it was harmless even though by now it was really big, almost like a handle on his back.’
Noah had more tests which found a tumour beneath the birthmark, wrapped around his spine and kidneys.
Noah’s family took him to Disneyland Paris and where his parents bought a Peter Pan costume before doctors revealed his illness was terminal
Noah underwent further chemotherapy after the discovery of his brain tumour but in January this year doctors announced there was ‘nothing more they could do’
Doctors discovered another brain tumour in 2017 just after he began primary school
WHAT ARE ALVEOLAR RHABDOMYOSARCOMAS?
Sarcomas are rare types of cancer that develop in the supporting or connective tissues of the body.
Soft tissue sarcomas can develop in muscle, fat, blood vessels, or any of the other tissues that support, surround and protect the organs of the body.
About 3,300 new cases are diagnosed each year in the UK.
Rhabdomyosarcomas grow in the active muscles of the body.
The most common places for them to be found are the head, neck, bladder, vagina, arms, legs and trunk of the body.
Alveolar rhabdomyosarcomas tend to occur in older children and adolescents.
It is usually treated with chemotherapy, along with surgery or radiotherapy – but it’s unknown what causes it.
Most rhabdomyosarcomas are diagnosed after a person develops symptoms. These may include:
Source: Macmillan Cancer Support
He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma.
Claire says: ‘We were devastated. Noah was just 16 months old and he was fit and healthy and absolutely lovely. I couldn’t take it in.
‘The doctors explained that Noah’s original birthmark was not connected to the cancerous growth which had replaced it. It was a terrible co-incidence.’
Noah began urgent chemotherapy which made him sick and weak.
Claire explained: ‘Noah took it all in his stride. He loved hospitals. He would wake each morning and say: “Can we go to hospital today?”
Noah had surgery to remove part of the lump followed by proton beam therapy in America in June 2015. The treatment left him with severe burns but was successful.
Keith (pictured with Noah) and Claire have begun fundraising for the support centres and the hospital that helped their son
In December 2015, he got the all-clear and life returned to normal.
Claire says: ‘Noah became a boisterous, funny, two year old boy. He was obsessed with superheroes; especially Spider-Man.
‘He was dressed as Spider-Man more often than he was as himself.’
But in June 2016, Noah began complaining: ‘My head is hurt.’
More tests showed he had a huge brain tumour, the size of a small melon. He had surgery followed by more chemotherapy.
Claire continued: ‘It was very tough for Noah because he’d spent so much of his little life having treatment. He was getting older and he didn’t like lying still for scans and injections.
Noah died surrounded by his family in March this year, at only four years old
Claire revealed it was a privilege to be Noah’s mother. His coffin was carried on a fire engine as he was laid to rest
‘We worried how he’d cope with yet more chemo and more appointments.
‘But, he began wearing his Spider-Man outfit for his treatment and, as a superhero, he could face it head on.
‘Spider-Man even came into hospital to visit the ward and Noah was actually dressed as Spider-Man himself. The two of them marched round the wards doing Spidey moves.
‘He had battles with the nurses too, dressed as Captain America and Thor.’
Noah appeared to be making good progress. But in October 2017, just after he had started primary school, a routine check found another brain tumour.
Realising time was running out, the family took Noah to Disneyland Paris and bought him the Peter Pan costume.
In January of this year, doctors said there was nothing more they could do, and Noah took his last breath surrounded by his family in March, aged only four.
During his four year battle with the disease, Noah’s sister Jade Carrick used GoFundMe to raise the money needed for his therapy in America.
Claire and her husband, Keith, 49, are now busy fundraising for Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, Claire House Hospice, and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Claire said: ‘I held him and kissed him as he passed away. My heart was broken, but also bursting with pride. It was a privilege to be his mother, if only for a short time.
‘Our grief is overwhelming. But Noah was always ready to take on the world – and we take our inspiration from him.’
To donate to Noah’s fund visit the Just Giving website.