JASON Denham was known for his infectious grin – and he was smiling to the very end as more than 300 people gathered to celebrate his life just a day before he died.
Warm tributes have been paid to the popular 43-year-old, whose life was tragically cut short by an aggressive cancer.
Jason, of Grayshott Road, Southsea, who worked as an IT engineer at Southern Electric in Havant, was diagnosed with the disease at the beginning of August.
The first sign was a sharp pain in his lower back while on holiday in California – a symptom initially put down to sitting on a long flight.
Doctors later discovered a tumour on his kidney and plans were made to remove it.
Jason was determined to fight the disease, but within a month the cancer had spread to his lungs and spine and eventually his liver.
Jason, who cycled to work every day until July, set up a Facebook group to update his friends on his progress and invited them all to a final party at The Pyramids in Southsea.
But it was touch and go whether Jason would survive long enough to make it.
In the end, more than 300 people, from far and wide celebrated with Jason.
His sister Roz Peters, 46, of Langford Road, Copnor, said: ’He wanted to get everybody together and that’s what he did.
‘Everybody wanted to enjoy themselves with Jason because it was his last party. He was in a wheelchair but he lasted a couple of hours. There was a disco and a buffet. He really enjoyed it.
‘Everybody who cried had to have a shot – those were Jason’s orders.’
Jason died 29 hours after the party at his home, surrounded by his mum Carol, sisters Angie and Roz, and three close friends.
His funeral took place at Portchester Crematorium, with more than 200 people attending.
Roz added: ‘He had the most beautiful smile.
‘He touched so many people’s lives. I hope we can carry on being like he was – being happy and helping other people.’
‘He faced disease with amazing strength’
FRIENDS have commended Jason Denham for his bravery.
Sunny Joat, 37, who lives in San Diego, California, but is originally from Eastney, said: ‘He faced it head on, with class, integrity and amazing strength not because he was trying to, but simply because that is just the only way he knew how.
‘He helped hundreds of people come to understand that “stand up to cancer” is not just a T-shirt slogan, but something real and shockingly awful, something that we need to do all we can to help the people who are working to fight this.’
Jason’s colleague Gordon Bloxham, who works at Southern Electric in Penner Road, said: ‘He was extremely helpful and friendly and the sort of chap who would go out of his way to help people.’