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Student, 18, with rare terminal cancer was told he wouldn't make it to 2020

A teenager with terminal cancer who was told he wouldn't make it to 2020 has revealed he is cycling 100 miles for charity - and refuses to stop smiling despite his diagnosis.

Joseph Lunn, 18, from Mitcham, south London, was taken to hospital with suspected appendicitis in April 2019, only to be given the devastating news he had incurable synovial sarcoma - which begins in the tissues and affects one-in-a-million people.

But two hours after waking up from surgery to remove an 8cm tumour from his abdomen, Joe opened his eyes, looked at his parents with a trademark beaming smile and gave a double thumbs-up. 'So far, so good,' he said, laughing.

He and his family had been clearly told the 18-year-old had just months to live and likely wouldn't make it to 2020 - yet just two weeks after his eight-hour operation Joe was back home for Boxing Day and planning his sporting calendar for the coming year.

Tomorrow the teenager is set to cycle 100 miles in his garden for charity - having already raised £5,000 after planning to take part in the now cancelled Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100.

Joseph Lunn (pictured) who was told he wouldn't make it to 2020 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer has revealed he is cycling 100 miles for charity

Joe (pictured during treatment), 18, from Mitcham, south London, was taken to hospital with suspected appendicitis in April 2019, only to be given the devastating news he had incurable synovial sarcoma - which begins in the tissues and affects one-in-a-million people

After arriving home from his operation, but still taking oral chemotherapy medication, Joe also secured a place to run in the now-cancelled London Marathon, and with a static bike bought for him by some school friends through fundraising, started training for a series of endurance races this summer.  

As well as pushing himself to his physical limits every day, the Year 13 student also dedicated himself to his studies to secure a place at university this September. 

'My wife Antonietta and I kept asking ourselves when will the bubble burst, when will he take in the gravity of what he's dealing with and hit the buffers?', said Joe's dad, David, 52. 

'But he never did, he never stopped smiling, he never gave up or felt sorry for himself. We always thought we'd have to keep a brave face on things to keep his spirits up, but it's Joe who's lifted everyone around him up. His relentless positivity in the face of the most awful circumstances is simply staggering.' 

And while the family knew his cancer would likely return, they prayed every day for that Joe would prove to be the exception, and through his sheer life-force and optimism would defeat that grimmest of prognoses.

But two hours after waking up from surgery to remove an 8cm tumour from his abdomen, Joe (pictured on a beach recently) opened his eyes, looked at his parents with a trademark beaming smile and gave a double thumbs-up

He and his family had been clearly told the 18-year-old had just months to live and likely wouldn't make it to 2020. Pictured, a scar down Joe's midriff

With regular scans at hospital, Joe's strength and fitness returned until in May they got the news they'd all been fearing – three new tumours had been spotted. 

Having already been battered by the highest-strength possible chemo for months, doctors told the family there were no treatment options left – all they could hope for would be a place on a medical trial.

But even in this darkest of hours, Joe wouldn't take the news lying down – he threw himself even harder into his cricket, cycling and studies, with a constant smile on his face.

Having missed out on his chance to tackle his first marathon, tomorrow Joe is cycling 100 miles on his static bike in their back garden in place of the cancelled Prudential race. 

Having already raised over £5,000 for the charity Rays of Sunshine on his fundraising page, he has upped his target to £10,000 and feels confident he will 'smash it'.

Yet just two weeks after his eight-hour operation Joe (pictured in hospital on Christmas Day) was back home for Boxing Day and planning his sporting calendar for the coming year

Tomorrow the teenager (pictured centre left) is set to cycle 100 miles in his garden for charity - having already raised £5,000 after planning to take part in the now cancelled Prudential Ride London-Surrey 100

'Every time Joe's told he can't do something, he just ignores it with a smile and carries on as if life was normal,' said David. 

WHAT IS SYNOVIAL SARCOMA?

A type of soft-tissue sarcoma hat begins in the tissues that connect, support and surround other body structures.

It is a rare cancer that only affects around one in a million people every

The disease starts most commonly in the legs or arms, but it can appear in any part of the body.

It spreads to bones and organs, where it becomes incurable, in half of cases. 

Symptoms vary based on tumor location, and the following symptoms may arise: 

The mass may interfere with bodily functions. 

For example, in the head and neck region, it may cause difficulties swallowing and breathing or it may alter the voice. 

The mass may be painful, in particular if nerves are involved. 

Figures suggest synovial sarcoma strikes just one-in-a-million people. 

'He was told he'd have to be in hospital for four weeks, but he was home in two, he was told his recovery from the operation would take up to three months and it was a matter of weeks before he was cycling and studying again – if anything, his cancer has made him more focused, more determined to live life to the full.'

Incredibly, earlier this week they got the news that Joe achieved a triple distinction star in BTEC Sport and Exercise Science - the highest grade possible for this qualification, guaranteeing his place to study at Nottingham Trent University this September.

Carrying a 12-inch scar down his midriff, tomorrow Joe will be in the saddle for a gruelling eight hours – approximately the same time he was in theatre in December - wanting to help others less fortunate for the charity Rays of Sunshine while he can.

Joe was taken to hospital last April with suspected appendicitis, only to be given the devastating news he had the very rare and also very deadly soft tissue cancer. 

After seven rounds of the highest possible strength chemotherapy, on December 12 he had the surgery to remove five tumours in his abdomen. 

That surgery went as well as could be hoped, but Joe's consultant didn't want to raise the family's hopes this was in any way a cure.

'We had a review meeting in November where the lead oncologist said she didn't expect Joe would last more than a few months – and he might not see 2020,' said David. 

'Joe was included in all these conversations and always said he wanted to know everything. It was heartbreaking, but we always clung onto hope when there seemed to be none.'

As well as pushing himself to his physical limits every day, the Year 13 student (pictured) also dedicated himself to his studies to secure a place at university this September

With regular scans at hospital, Joe's (pictured during treatment) strength and fitness returned until in May they got the news they'd all been fearing – three new tumours had been spotted

Having already been battered by the highest-strength possible chemo for months, doctors told the family there were no treatment options left – all they could hope for would be a place on a medical trial. Joe pictured with Olly Murs

The family spent Christmas Day with Joe at the Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke before returning home the next day.

Within weeks he was back cycling, and even inspired his whole family to blow the dust off their bikes and join him for rides during lockdown. Still on daily chemo tablets, he went back to school to a rapturous reception from his friends and teachers.

But since that scan in May showing the cancer has now returned, Joe is no longer taking the chemo tablets – and with limited treatment options, all they can do is hope he is accepted on a clinical trial.

'I'm in no doubt Joe's mental and physical strength will be a massive benefit,' said David. 

'We were told it would just be months, and we're nine months in now, with Joe showing no signs of giving up or slowing down. He's certainly putting all of us to shame. I can't imagine many other teenagers with terminal cancer will be riding 100 miles for charity today!'

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