A beloved TikTok personality who chronicled his journey to complete his bucket list while battling a rare type of cancer has passed away at the age of 18. Harrison Gilks, from Canada, died on March 30 surrounded by his family after a long fight with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that develops in soft tissue, his family confirmed.
Harrison received his cancer diagnosis in November 2020 when doctors discovered a sizable tumor in his prostate and spots on his lungs. Despite his young age and the devastating news, Harrison remained determined to live life to the fullest and set out to complete his bucket list, which he documented on social media.
After undergoing several months of chemotherapy and radiation, Harrison was declared to be in remission in February 2022.
After learning that his cancer had returned and was terminal, Gilks turned to social media to document his journey. On TikTok, he shared his story with over 314,000 followers, using his platform to raise awareness about his rare form of cancer.
In one video posted on June 29, 2022, Gilks revealed his diagnosis to his followers: “This isn’t the normal type of stuff I post, but I found out today that I have terminal cancer.”
“I was cancer-free for a little bit, but unfortunately, it came back. The reason I’m making this and putting it out there is because I’d like to make a little series.
“I’m gonna go out and do a bunch of stuff that I’ve always wanted to do, maybe skydiving, stuff along those lines.”
Despite the devastating news, Gilks remained positive and focused on living his life to the fullest.
Despite the heartbreaking diagnosis, Harrison remained positive and determined to complete his bucket list. He wanted to inspire others to live their lives to the fullest and not take anything for granted. His positive attitude quickly earned him a strong following on TikTok and other social media platforms, with many people offering their support and encouragement.
Despite the challenges posed by his illness, Harrison tried to make the most of the time he had left and documented his adventures on TikTok. His followers saw him attend a music festival, go on helicopter rides, meet his favorite sports stars, and travel to places like New York City, Mexico, and the Rocky Mountains. His positive attitude and determination to live life to the fullest earned him a strong following.
However, on March 21, Harrison shared a heartbreaking health update with his followers.
“The cancer has spread to my liver and one of my lungs filled with fluid,’ he said in a video shared from his hospital bed.
“It’s really hard to breathe. The doctors said I don’t have a whole lot of time left. ‘I’ll be in the hospital for the remainder of whatever time I have left. It’s obviously very upsetting.
“I wish there was something that you guys could do, or I could do, or the doctors could do – but there isn’t. This is just the way it goes.
“The best thing you guys can do is pray for me. I’ve been doing a lot of praying. Pray for me and my family. It’s been a great ride.”
Earlier this week, his brother, David, posted a video from Harrison’s account confirming his passing.
“He was not in pain when he passed away and he was with his family,” he said. “I just wanted to come on here and say thank you to everybody from around the world for their support and encouragement. It really did mean a lot to him.”
Harrison’s family paid tribute to him in his obituary, calling him “an inspiration to many” adding, “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,” they continued.
“Though he could no longer do some of the things he loved such as play hockey, softball, jet skiing and tubing, rugby, skiing, mountain biking or dirt biking … he was determined not to let cancer get in his way.
“But after nearly two and a half years of a hard-fought battle, knowing he did as much as he could, knowing he was loved and strong, he said goodbye.”