It’s not often that we talk about such a real-life circumstance as death. However, when death intersects with Star Wars — especially in the way that it has with Daniel Fleetwood — we feel we would be remiss if we were not to discuss the impression it has had on us all. Last week we told you about a terminally ill cancer patient named Daniel Fleetwood, who as a lifelong Star Wars fan, wanted to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens before he died. Daniel, just 32 years of age, had been told by his doctors that he had only two months to live, in August. Daniel beat those odds, but knew he was on borrowed time and his only wish was to see The Force Awakens before he took his last breath.
Daniel’s wife valiantly took up his cause, reaching out to Facebook and Reddit, who then rallied the rest of the internet to start a hashtag trending on Twitter #ForceForDaniel, which was retweeted by The Force Awakens stars, John Boyega and Mark Hamill. Three days later, J.J. Abrams along with Disney/Lucasfilm came through, and gave Daniel a private screening of an unedited version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was a triumph for Daniel and his wife, and a heartwarming tale of what the internet — or rather the Star Wars fanbase on the internet — can do, when rallying around one of our own.
Sadly, today we have news that Daniel succumbed to the cancer (Spindle cell sarcoma, a connective tissue cancer that had ravaged his body), and has passed away. A CBS news affiliate near Daniel’s home in Texas, broke the news:
"“Daniel Fleetwood, the 32-year-old terminally ill man whose dying wish was to see the new Star Wars movie passed away Tuesday. Fleetwood got the chance to see an unedited version of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on Thursday, a Disney spokesperson confirmed to CNN.”"
Taking to her Facebook page to let Daniel’s supporters know, Ashley Fleetwood — Daniel’s wife — told the story of his passing:
"“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“"
Thankfully, J.J. Abrams did an amazing thing and gifted Daniel with the chance to see The Force Awakens before he died. This wasn’t just a gift for Daniel, however, as Ashley his wife was able to watch her husband enjoy one last thing before dying. As a person who has been personally affected by cancer, I assure you that Daniel’s loved ones appreciated J.J. Abrams and Disney’s gift much more than you can know.
In 2010, I held my own 30 year brother’s hand, as he breathed his last breath. He had been in hospice for a few months after osteosarcoma that started in his leg, spread to his lungs, and then to his brain. At the end, it was small things like watching his favorite show that made him the happiest, and I sincerely hope that being able to watch The Force Awakens, gave Daniel and his family some small measure of peace, before his passing.
Daniel was also visited by the famous 501st Star Wars group. The 501st is a nationwide group with a large membership, and they made Daniel an honorary member.
Fare thee well, Daniel, may you find peace at last. We at Dork Side hope that your family can find strength from this, and we hope that you are now finally one with the Force.