Dad’s heartache as ‘beautiful’ boy, 4, dies after cancer battle


A family from Atherton has paid tribute to their ‘beautiful’ four-year-old son who passed away after a battle with cancer. At just 20 months old, Link Simpson was diagnosed with cancer after a lump was found on his right leg that grew to the size of a fist.

Link, was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) which is a rare type of cancer that affects muscle tissue, mostly in children and adolescents. For the next two-and-a-half years of Link’s life he was under active treatment that saw him move around the region to receive care from specialists and hospitals.

The treatment was proving successful until he relapsed twice last year, and after a few more rounds of treatment his family decided to remove him from the stressful medical treatment he was undergoing. Despite the heart-breaking journey, Brad Simpson, Link’s father, spoke of how the family made a vow to remain as positive as possible when around Link, who did not know he was dying.

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He said: “Link knew something wasn’t right and the hardest things as a family was when he would say ‘Daddy what’s wrong with me?’ “But we always tried to ensure that around him there was always positive language, Link at no stage knew he was dying.

“Right up to the day before he passed, we didn’t want him to know. These physical changes that we saw were absolutely soul destroying as a family, this disease was taking away our beautiful, loving, fun, joyful boy.”

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link simpson
Link Simpson has been described as an ‘inspiration’

An inspiring, cheerful and expressive child, his father said that Link was loved by the community and his bravery was able to spur on others. Link has been a mascot for Swindon Town FC and he is an honorary member of the Leigh Fire Station who performed a guard of honor for him during his service held earlier this week.

Throughout his battle with cancer, Link’s physical appearance began to deteriorate due to the disease which saw him undergo severe weight loss and at one point he was unable to close one eye due to the lesions on his brain. Speaking of Link’s bravery Brad said: “Link tackled everything like you’d expect.

Brad (pictured) said Link was the 'heart of the family'
Brad (pictured) said Link was the ‘heart of the family’

“He never at any stage said, ‘why me?’ he never felt sorry for himself, and he always had a smile on his face. For us as a family we tried to make as many memories as we could for Link and our other two children. ”

Link leaves behind his older sisters Sophie and Millie and his mum Clare and dad Brad. The Simpson family recently held a private service at Howe Bridge Crematorium for Link, they plan on holding a Celebration of Life event for him at Parklee Community Primary School in Atherton on May 21.

Link with Swindon Town F.C.
Link with Swindon Town F.C.

His father said: “We’re going to allow people to come share their stories of what Link meant to them. He wasn’t a normal four-year-old by any stretch of the imagination. We’re not saying goodbye because Link is forever four.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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