The death of an 18-year-old just 12 weeks after being diagnosed with cancer has prompted a group of grieving teens to hold a fundraiser to make sure his “one-in-a-million” character would never been forgotten.
Alec Benson, 18, nicknamed Chuck, was recently left devastated when he was told close friend Liam Alexander, from Bonnyrigg, had died shortly after doctors tried to remove a tumour the size of a football from his body.
The strong bond between the boys has led them to organise a fundraiser to raise money in Liam’s name, with plans to build a memorial bench.
Liam contracted a persistent cold in November that was initially treated with steroids. When he started struggling to swallow, the teenager went back to the doctors in February.
He was sent to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for a pep scan, which revealed the large tumour.
Liam’s dad Stephen Renwick said: “The doctors said it was the most aggressive they had ever seen. It attacked his right lung, diaphragm and was piercing his heart sack. His operation took eight hours and they managed to remove half of it, but there was nothing else they could do.”
Doctors switched off his ventilator on May 24.
Stephen said although Liam had it tough at school with persistent bullying, he had taken on a new lease of life.
“He was looking forward to getting an apprenticeship as a painter/decorator and had big plans to work in Australia or Canada,” Stephen said. “He put a smile on my face every day. He was such a character and good at making folk laugh.
“He was just one-in-a-million that brought his friends closer together. They adored him.
“He deserved to have friends like this and what they are doing will mean he is never forgotten.”
In a touching speech at his funeral, Alec paid tribute to the “very special lad”.
He said: “Liam became a brother to me and many others when he joined us on a night out one time and then again the next week and again. From that night, Liam played a big part in my life and all the boys in the group.
“Liam used to always make you smile and laugh no matter how you were feeling.
“He’d always have time for you and you could sit and tell him anything and know it would stay between you and him.
“I think that’s why we all had such a strong relationship with him. We had his back and he had yours. We all look out for each other. You have to being a group of young lads.
“We are just sorry we couldn’t help you with this. Liam, you were a fighter and fought to the very end, just the way we knew you would. Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer and although a part of us is gone it won’t ever be taken away from our hearts.”
Alec added: “We want to let the whole of Scotland know how much our friend means to us and how much you should be there for your friends before it’s too late.”
The Live for Liam fundraiser will be held at Bonnyrigg Social Club on July 28.