Cancer battle is over for brave Jamie

JAMIE Buckfield, who for the last four years had suffered from a cancerous brain tumour, has died.

The 20-year-old passed away at home in East Ham Road, Littlehampton, in the early hours of Saturday morning, June 9, with family and friends at his bedside.

Six months after first reporting his symptoms of ringing in his ears and headaches to six different doctors, he was eventually diagnosed with the tumour in 2004, aged 17.

Since that day, he put a brave face on what was often a painful and frustrating condition.

The tumour gave him headaches and affected his sight, forcing him to leave a mechanics' course he had started at Chichester College and keeping him out of education for the rest of his life.

Jamie underwent a course of chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden cancer hospital in Surrey but to no avail and the tumour eventually spread to his spine.

For the last few weeks, Jamie had been bed-ridden at home, cared for by his family and by his mum Tracey's partner Andy Blackwood, who quit work in December to look after him.

Andy paid tribute to Jamie's courage and maturity in dealing with his situation: "Right up until the end he still had his sense of humour. He never complained, despite the pain and frustration he must have felt every day."

Over the past three years, since he was diagnosed, Jamie had enjoyed several holidays and trips abroad, including a visit to Lapland and a cruise on the Queen Mary II in 2005, which was paid for by generous people and businesses in the Littlehampton area.

In the months before the cruise, rarely a week went by when the Gazette didn't report about one or another fund-raising effort as friends rallied round to do parachute jumps, hold pool competitions and have their legs waxed to raise money to send him on his dream trip.

But Jamie himself was no stranger to fundraising – last year he abseiled down the side of Bristol Children's Hospital in a gorilla suit.

Resolute to remain as active as possible, in the last six months, Jamie piloted a plane in Bournemouth and met players from Portsmouth Football Club.

Speaking to the Gazette on Tuesday, Tracey said: "I felt relief on the first day, because I knew that he wasn't suffering any more, but now I miss him.

"For the past week, he had been asleep the whole time and we have had so many visitors, for up to 15 hours a day. Probably 150 people have come to see him. That just shows how he touched people.

"I have had so much support from family and friends, it has been amazing. It is that support that is helping me carry on."

Tracey said that even though Jamie's death was expected, it had still shocked his two brothers, Luke and Brandan, and two sisters, Jody and Lucy.

She said she was pleased that he had been able to remain so active up until a few weeks ago.

"After he was diagnosed, I said to him that it's not how long you live it's what you do when you're alive that counts.

"I'd like to say thanks to everyone who has ever helped Jamie or supported him in his fund-raising efforts."

Jamie's funeral service is being held at St Mary's Church at 2.15pm on Monday (June 18). People who knew him and want to pay their respects are welcome.

He will then be buried alongside his auntie, Alison Terry, in Littlehampton Cemetery.

FRIENDS of Jamie Buckfield have organised a fund-raising day in his memory for June 30.

To be held at the Dolphin pub in Littlehampton High Street from noon, the day will feature an auction, table sale, karaoke, plant sale, barbecue and face-painting among its attractions.

Organised by Ellie Boiling, landlady of The Dolphin, the day's proceeds will go to the Joshua Foundation, a charity which pays for children with life-limiting conditions to go on dream trips and one which Jamie had wanted to be the beneficiary of any future fund-raising.

Ellie said: "I want the whole community to get behind this and support us and I want it to help bring the community together.

"We have been round the town and had a great response from shopkeepers, many of whom have donated raffle prizes.

"Jamie was a wonderful lad and we will miss him. He had been into the pub for meals on many occasions and I sent him meals home when he couldn't leave the house."

Anyone interested in having a table on the day, helping out or supporting the event should see Ellie at the pub, or call her on 01903 715789.