WARNING: Photo below may be distressing to some readers.
A heart-wrenching photo shared by the mother of a little boy with cancer has gone viral, shedding light on how the disease not only affects patients, but their siblings as well.
Mom of three Kaitlin Burge, whose son Beckett suffers from Leukemia, shared a photo a photo of Beckett on Facebook last week, leaning over the toilet about to throw up, as his sister lovingly pats him on the back.
“One thing they don’t tell you about childhood cancer is that it affects the entire family. You always hear about the financial and medical struggles, but how often do you hear about the struggles families with other children face?” wrote Burge in the photo’s caption.
“To some, this may be hard to see and read,” Burge warned before continuing the emotional post, explaining that Beckett, her middle child, went from playing with his sister “in school and at home together to sitting in a cold hospital room together.”
According to a GroupMe Fundraiser for the Burge family, Beckett was diagnosed with very high risk pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia, pneumonia in the left lung, and acute respiratory failure last April. There is also a PayPal Pool to raise money for Beckett’s medical expenses.
“My then 4 year-year-old watched her brother go from an ambulance to the ICU,” Burge added, describing the harrowing experience of watching a sibling undergo traumatizing treatment. “She watched a dozen doctors throw a mask over his face, poke and prod him with needles, pump a dozen medications through his body, all while he laid there helplessly. She wasn’t sure what was happening. All she knew was that something was wrong with her brother, her best friend.”
Burge described the confusion that her daughter felt while watching her “lively, energetic, and outgoing little brother” transform into “a quiet, sick, and very sleepy little boy.”
“She didn’t understand how he was able to walk before this, but now he can’t even stand unassisted. She didn’t understand the different therapies he had to attend to gain his strength back. To her, it was something special he got to do that she didn’t. Why couldn’t they go to their favorite trampoline park anymore? Why couldn’t they go to the splash pads they previously went to? Why didn’t he have to go back to school, but she did?”
But despite the difficulty, Burge said that her daughter has stayed by her brother’s side.
The touching photo has drawn the attention of thousands, quickly garnering over 46,000 reactions, 4,000 comments and 29,000 shares since Burge shared it on the Beckett Strong updates page.
Burge also explained her choice to bring her daughter to the hospital with Beckett.
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“Children need support and togetherness, and should not be kept at a distance from the person who is ill,” she said in the Facebook post. “The most important thing is to show that they are taken care of regardless of the situation.
“She spent a fair amount of time, by his side in the bathroom, while he got sick,” she added. “She stuck by him. She supported him and she took care of him, regardless of the situation.”
“To this day, they are closer,” she continued. “She always takes care of him.”
“Vomiting between play sessions. Waking up to throw up. Standing by her brothers side and rubbing his back while he gets sick. Going from 30 lbs to 20 lbs,” she wrote. “This is childhood cancer. Take it or leave it.”