In January last year, soccer player Joshua Sobers-Henry was a patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, deteriorating at a fast rate as he battled a rare blood disorder.
Today, he was relaxed at his St. Lucy home, thanking God that he has lived to see his 18th birthday.
“When I was sick, I never thought I would see this day. I didn’t even think I would make it,” he told .Barbados TODAY
The teenager received much attention locally and internationally when his heart-rending story was publicized when his then distraught mother Carolann Sobers-Skeete called on Barbadians to offer urgent financial assistance and make blood donations to save the life of her son, who was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia – a deficiency of blood cells caused by failure of bone marrow development – in late 2013.
Thanks to an overwhelming response, Joshua left the island, masked and confined to wheelchair and accompanied by his mother, to get emergency stem cell treatment at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Washington, United States.
He got good news in February this year, when he visited NIH for a checkup that the disease had gone into remission. However, doctors have warned him that it is possible for it to attack him again, especially over the next two years.
But Joshua is taking each day as it comes, and doing his best to continue feeling the way he does now.
“My body is feeling great at this point in time and I am just making sure I do what I got to do and stay healthy,” he said. “I thank the Lord that he gives me strength to help me get through my trying times. When I was going through this, every day I was thinking if I could get help and having faith in the doctors. At points when I think I couldn’t make it, I just hold firm.”
Since coming back home from treatment last August, Joshua returned to the Coleridge and Parry School, from which he graduated in June.
He has also returned to the field to play the sport he loves. In fact, he captained his school’s football team to victory in the Coca-Cola Barbados Secondary Schools Football League Knockout Cup
“I didn’t know if I could play football again and now I am getting to. And then, possibly next week, I am going to start evening courses at PomMarine [the Barbados Community College Hospitality Institute],” Joshua says with expectation.
“I really want to be a chef and right now I am doing an internship at Lone Star Restaurant. I am just trying to steer my life in the right direction and take positive steps.”
Sobers-Skeete, who listened carefully to her son speak maturely about his fight for life, said she was simply grateful to those who were there for her son in his time of need.
“He is a dream for the doctors at NIH who are amazed at the way he responded to the treatment. When he went up there his bone marrow was operating at five per cent and when he went for the check up in February, they said it is working at 95 per cent,” she said.
Joshua’s story was featured in the 2014 Annual Report of the Children’s Inn, a private, non-profit, family-centered hospitality house for families with children participating in research studies at NIH.