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Boy with cancer gets a wish

Joshua Palmer was riding his bicycle Wednesday like any other 10-year-old.

Joshua's life, however, has been far from normal since doctors diagnosed him with brain cancer five years ago. He has lost much of his hearing, his hair, mobility in his wrists and ankles, and above all, his childhood.

"Joshua is 10 years old going on 40," his mother, Brenda Palmer, said. "He never had a childhood. It's always been medicine, hospital and doctors."

But Joshua and his family will get away from modern medicine today when they embark on a four-day Caribbean cruise provided by the Make A Wish Foundation.

The foundation, with the help of Carol Personius of AAA Travel Agency and Frances Herce, organized the cruise with two weeks' notice because of Joshua's unpredictable chemotherapy schedule. It rented a van that will take the family to Cape Canaveral, booked two rooms on the Premiere Cruise Line's Big Red Boat and even provided the Palmer family with spending money.

Three and a half years ago, doctors at the University of South Florida told Brenda and Robert Palmer nothing else could be done to help their son. The doctors said the tumors that surrounded his brain and spinal cord were inoperable. The Palmers turned to the new cancer facility at St. Joseph's Hospital, which has sparked a renewed sense of hope.

"I'm looking at three more years," Mrs. Palmer said. "I'm looking at Joshua graduating from high school."

For the time being, the cruise will be a time of family togetherness. And Joshua is looking to the future.

"I was thinking about getting a job on the cruise," he said. "Then I'll make so much money that I won't have to live at home. I can have my own car."