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Teen who documented his cancer journey passes away, inspiring others to find joy in every situation

Harrison Gilks, an 18-year-old Canadian teenager, passed away after chronicling his battle with terminal cancer on TikTok.

Teen who documented his cancer journey passes away, inspiring others to find joy in every situation
Cover Image Source: TikTok/@harrisongilks1

Harrison Gilks, a Canadian teenager who chronicled his battle with terminal cancer on TikTok while completing his bucket list, passed away at the age of 18 on March 30. In November 2020, Gilks was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that develops in soft tissue. He completed his first round of chemotherapy in December of that same year, and after a brief remission, he announced in June 2022 that cancer had returned and that he would be documenting his bucket list journey on TikTok.

According to TODAY, Gilks' TikTok account amassed more than 315,000 followers as he shared his experiences, including meeting country singer Luke Combs, attending sporting events, taking a helicopter tour of New York City and traveling to Montreal, Toronto and Tampa. Throughout his videos, he also shared updates on his health and the progression of his cancer.

Image Source: TikTok/@harrisongilks1
Image Source: TikTok/@harrisongilks1

In his final TikTok video posted on March 21, Gilks shared an update from his trip to Mexico. He revealed that his cancer had spread and he was experiencing complications, which led him to the hospital.

He acknowledged that his time was limited and he would likely remain in the hospital for the remainder of his life. Despite this, he expressed gratitude to his followers for joining him on his bucket list journey and for supporting him throughout his battle with cancer.

Image Source: TikTok/@harrisongilks1
Image Source: TikTok/@harrisongilks1

After Gilks' passing, his family released an online obituary that praised him as an inspiration to many. The obituary read, “Harrison was an inspiration to many. His smile could light up a room, his laugh could cheer anyone up. He was our sunshine on a cloudy day... He always found good in every situation and touched the lives of many with his messages of hope and encouragement through his TikTok videos, where he chronicled and shared his journey with cancer with the world.”

Image Source: TikTok/@harrisongilks1
Image Source: TikTok/@harrisongilks1

Gilks' younger brother, David, also posted a video on Gilks’ TikTok account to announce his brother's passing and to thank his followers for their immense support and encouragement. David said, “I just wanted to come on here and say thank you to everybody around the world for their support and encouragement. It really did mean a lot to him.”

Image Source: TikTok/@harrisongilks1
Image Source: TikTok/@harrisongilks1

Gilks' obituary noted that while he was unable to complete all of the items on his bucket list, he was determined to go on as many adventures as possible with the time he had left. He vowed not to let cancer get in his way and fought a hard battle for two and a half years. Ultimately, he said goodbye knowing that he was loved and had done as much as he could.

Gilks' journey and bucket list adventures on TikTok touched the hearts of many and served as a reminder to appreciate the time we have and to live life to the fullest. His legacy will undoubtedly live on, inspiring others to find joy in every situation and to never give up hope, no matter the circumstances.

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