Battling back after terminal cancer diagnosis: Joseph sets sights on music career

Joseph Smallwood with top DJ Like Mike at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Pic by Aidan OReilly, Pacemaker Press

Joseph Smallwood with top DJ Like Mike at the SSE Arena in Belfast. Pic by Aidan OReilly, Pacemaker Press

An inspirational young man from Lisburn has told how he’s continuing to battle back from cancer after doctors told him he only had months to live.

Joseph Smallwood was diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer in May 2014 after discovering a lump on the side of his neck.

He went through a series of painful neck dissection operations, but a year later received the terrible news that the cancer had spread to his lungs.

“They said there were too many tumours to count and there was no treatment or surgery that could be done as it was on both lungs. They said I would probably only have a few months left of life so I should go and enjoy the time I had left,” Joseph explained.

However, determined that he wasn’t going to give up, the 21-year-old has stayed positive, made key changes to his diet and battled back remarkably. And his condition is now showing dramatic improvement.

“My latest scan shows that I have only one tumour the size of a tic-tac in my left lung and just two weeks ago I had another selective neck dissection to remove the tumour in my neck again, which was the size of a grape, as they thought it was a good time with my latest good results. Now I’m just waiting to see how things go,” he continued.

Joseph is now looking to the future and has set his sights on a career as a music producer/DJ.

The part-time convenience store supervisor and part-time music producer got some inspiration for his chosen career path when he got to meet top international DJs Like Mike and Dimitri Vegas backstage at their gig at Belfast’s SSE Arena on Friday night (September 16).

Joseph was among a group of young cancer survivors invited to take part in the meet-and-greet by charity Youth Cancer Europe.

Thanking staff at the Cancer Centre in Belfast and Youth Cancer Europe for organising his trip to meet the superstar DJs, Joseph added: “It was a brilliant, surreal and nervous experience meeting Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike as I’ve always been a massive fan of them and what they’re doing in the music industry.

“My plan is to eventually become a full-time music producer/DJ and start touring and playing my music to a bigger audience. I’m actually going over to Las Vegas this November to hang out with music producer and DJ called ‘Generik’ who supports Calvin Harris at his residency on Fridays at a club on the Las Vegas strip, which will be a brilliant experience that I’m excited about and really thankful to Generik for the opportunity.”