Story of the Month: Terminally Sick Daniel Fleetwood & a Final Wish Come True…

Posted: November 6, 2015 in (All Things) CULTURE, FILM
Tags: , , , , ,

daniel-fleetwood1

Actually it could be story of the year. This is one of those stories that just breaks your heart a little.

Last week, a Facebook post appeared from a friend of a woman named Ashley Fleetwood. It was shared some 300 times, but then also picked up on Reddit and quickly went viral. The subject concerned Ashley Fleetwood’s 32 year-old husband, Daniel, who is terminally ill and was told some time ago he has only months to live.

Daniel Fleetwood is diagnosed with something called spindle cell sarcoma, a type of cancer relating to the connective tissue. He had been told by doctors back in September that he had only two months left; but Daniel has been holding on in the desperate hope of living long enough to see the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, which doesn’t reach cinemas until December 18th.

Fearful that Daniel wouldn’t last until December 18th, a social media campaign to get Lucasfilm/Disney to allow him to see the film in a special screening prior to its official release date went viral, with the hashtag #ForceforDaniel trending on Twitter and the likes of John Boyega, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and even Mark Hamill himself all getting behind the campaign to make Daniel’s final wish come true.

Well, the Force delivered, and yesterday, his wife Ashley announced on Facebook that the studio had granted Daniel’s wish and allowed him to see an unedited version of the film in a special screening at his home where he is receiving hospice care. Thanking everyone who supported the campaign, she concludes, ‘Lastly I want to thank ALL the amazing people who helped make this happen, thank you beyond words!!! May the force be with you all’.

 
 

 

Something similar has happened before; for example in 2013 a young man named Daniel Craft, who was dying from cancer, was allowed to see a rough version of Star Trek: Into Darkness by JJ Abrams, this being a full five months before the film’s release. Craft then died just days after having seen the film.

And Daniel has now not only seen the movie ahead of everyone else, but he’s seen it ahead of the final edit, meaning he’s seen a version that no one else is  going to get to see; making his experience all the more special and unique. Like myself and countless others, Daniel has been a massive Star Wars fan since  he was a kid. Ten years ago, he even appeared in a newspaper story when he had camped outside a cinema for days so that he could be the first person to get a ticket to see the last George Lucas directed Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith.

I have to say this story really touched me for obvious reasons, but also because Daniel is pretty much my age group and it’s difficult not to empathize with him and also to understand how lucky, how privileged, the rest of us are to even be alive; which is something we – myself especially – all too easily forget. I remember a few years ago when I had what I thought at the time was quite a big health scare, and I remember watching the 3-D release of The Phantom Menace in the cinema with some friends and actually getting choked up because I thought this would be the last time I’d ever see a Star Wars movie in the cinema. For fans like me, or perhaps people of my age group, Star Wars really is a big deal, and these films are in fact landmarks we measure our lives by. I’m really happy for Daniel he’s gotten to see this film.

And now he’s in fact the first fan to see a version of the first new Star Wars in a decade. It’s a beautiful moment, a deeply moving story, and also a testament to how powerful social media and on-line crowd-backing can be in making good things happen for good people. I’d love to know what Daniel thinks of the film, now that he’s seen it; but that’s another matter.

 

 

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