THE family of a teenager who lost his brave fight for life have vowed to raise awareness of the rare cancer that killed him.
The family of 16-year-old Tony Williams, of Overpool Road, who lost his fight with oesophageal cancer on May 13, are determined to set up a charity in his honour.
After his death, sister Lisa Williams, 27, of Commonhall Street, Chester found a YouTube clip her brother had recorded in which he joked about setting up a Big Bottle Society while holding a giant plastic Coca-Cola bottle.
Now his family and girlfriend Rebecca Svensson want to set up the Big Bottle Society for real, to bring his rare cancer into the public eye.
Tony, a former Whitby High School pupil who was studying music at West Cheshire College, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in December 2011.
But, unknown to him, the cancer had been growing for months before any of the symptoms – difficulty swallowing, coughing and vomiting – appeared.
Lisa said: “In November he was saying he was sick every time he was eating.
“He was starting to get a psychological thing with food. We thought it was all in his head and not anything major.
“He went to the doctor three times and had tests. Then he was diagnosed in December.”
Oesophageal cancer normally affects adults more than 50 years old, with 8,200 cases diagnosed every year.
Lisa added: “The doctors said don’t worry, he’s young and we’re going to cut this out.
“We just thought it was going to be hard but it was going to be fine.”
But in April his condition took a turn for the worse.
“He was in bed not speaking to anyone in a lot of pain,” said Lisa. “Two weeks after that he couldn’t fight anymore.
“He had a round of chemotherapy for five days. During the second lot he developed heart and breathing problems. He hadn’t eaten solids since November. When he had his first chemotherapy he could eat a solid meal, so they thought they’d shrunk the tumour.”
But an endoscopy revealed the cancer had spread to his stomach and lymph nodes.
The family explored countless ways of saving Tony, and enquired about pioneering new treatment in London.
But as his health worsened, his resolve was starting to weaken.
“He didn’t want to know about anything,” added Lisa. “He was proper crushed. His health just rapidly deteriorated. He was lying in bed curled in a ball in lots of pain.”
The rest of the family, sister Liz, 30, and brothers Mark, 25, and Peter, 15, and parents Ann and Desy were joined by more than 100 people at Overpool Chapel.
At his funeral on May 22, the family gathered two of the bottles seen in the video and asked for donations to Claire House, which helped Tony before his death and has remained a source of strength for his family since he passed away. They raised £500.
As the family drove past Whitby High, the teachers shut the gates and stood outside to pay their respects.
Lisa, who teaches pole fitness, said: “He was such a strong young man and was so positive and gentle. He always helped people throughout his life by standing up to bullies and listening to friends’ problems, trying to advise them and think positive.”
“The video shows him at his best, joking around trying to make others laugh.
“Tony literally used to help everyone.”
A music lover, Tony impressed family and friends with his rapping, and enjoyed fishing and playing guitar. He was considering joining two of his friends in the Army.
Lisa added: “He loved his nephew Charlie and always wanted kids one day.
“We let off 16 red heart-shaped balloons at his funeral and about 25 minutes later, one floated back and hovered over our heads, so he’s still around.”