When fans go to see Star Wars: Episode VII this winter, there may be one more glowing blue presence watching over them next to Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker: Star Wars superfan Daniel Fleetwood. Daniel succumbed to spindle cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, just five days after being granted his dying wish to see The Force Awakens on November 5.
Disney and J.J. Abrams screened an unfinished cut for him after his family, cast members and the Internet rallied to bring attention to his cause, #ForceForDaniel. He was 32.
His wife Ashley, who launched the campaign to get him to see the movie, wrote this caption to the above photo:
Daniel put up an amazing fight to the very end. He is now one with God and with the force. He passed in his sleep and in peace. He will always be my idol and my hero. Please hug uncle Marc for me and give Lucy lots of kisses. Rest in peace my love. This was the last selfie we ever took together.#forcefordaniel
Fleetwood was told by his doctors in July that he had two months to live, which is when he expressed his wish to see the film before he died, and his wife began the campaign. In addition to seeing the film, an outpouring of support from fans of all stripes arrived to comfort Daniel in his final days, which Ashley made clear was a tremendous help as the painful disease, which attacks connective tissue, entered its final stage.
Speaking to KPRC-TV recently, Daniel said "Judging by how progressive the disease has gotten in the past two months I really don't think that I'll be able to make it [to December]. I just love Star Wars... with everything I got, I love Star Wars." Moved by his story, cast members like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayheew, John Boyega, and Daisy Ridley all supported him on social media, to advocate for him seeing the movie and then to mourning his passing.
As much as this story reminds one that cancer is an a-hole and life should never be taken for granted, it's also a testament to the community of Star Wars fans and the enduring power imbued in that galaxy far, far away—something that comes not from George Lucas or J.J. Abrams, but from all those who visited it together. Let's also remember how hard his wife Ashley worked to help Daniel achieve his dream, and help her by donating to their GoFundMe page to help alleviate the insane medical costs of dying of cancer in a universe without medical droids.