A mum has shared the heartbreaking impact that childhood cancer has had on her entire family through social media.

A poignant image shows a five-year-old sister supporting her little brother as he deals with the effects of chemotherapy.

Now four-years-old, Beckett Burge was diagnosed with childhood cancer (a form of leukaemia) last year. The news broke the hearts of his parents and his best mate… his five-year-old sister Aubrey.

Unless you’ve been through it, it’s very difficult for families to truly understand the huge impact childhood cancer has on everyone involved. However, it’s important to try to empathise and this mum’s insights have helped a lot of people to do just that. This beautiful story of sibling love will have you reaching for the tissues.

Beckett Burge with sister Aubrey, childhood cancer, Leukaemia

Source: Facebook/Beckett Strong

The Strongest of Bonds

Mum Kaitlin wanted the world to see this devastating picture of her children to highlight the toll childhood cancer has on families. It’s a painful yet powerful portrait of a big sister’s devotion.

As Beckett stood retching over the toilet while the effects of chemotherapy ravaged his body, Aubrey supported him and rubbed his back. Kaitlin said the two were thick as thieves and became closer after Beckett’s diagnosis.

“You always hear about the financial and medical struggles of cancer, but how often do you hear about the struggles families with other children face?” Kaitlin wrote in a post on Beckett Strong, a Facebook page she created to update friends, family, and her community on Beckett’s progress.

Not a lot of people understand the reality of childhood cancer as it is. Siblings often are forgotten about. We wanted to show how cancer can affect the entire family” – says Kaitlin.

Beckett was diagnosed with Pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The “spitfire with a huge personality and a contagious smile” was seriously ill when this photo was taken on April 25, 2018. He developed pneumonia in his left lung and acute respiratory failure. He lost his hair and the ability to walk.

Kaitlin said Aubrey didn’t understand what was happening to her little brother at first. But, over time, she realised that he desperately needed her support. Their bond is incredibly strong, though Kaitlin admits it wasn’t love at first sight.

“When Beckett was first born, she wanted him gone. She wanted him sent back to the hospital,” Kaitlin said.

“It took about three months until she started to realise he was here for the long haul. She adapted and from that point on, they became best friends.

Beckett Burge, Beckett Strong Facebook

Source: Facebook/Beckett Strong

A Loyal Supporter

“Sadly they went from playing at home together to sitting in a cold hospital room together.”

Kaitlin said Aubrey had witnessed some distressing scenes but was always Beckett’s most loyal supporter.

“She watched her brother go from an ambulance to the ICU,” Kaitlin told Café Mum.

“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. All she knew was that something was wrong with her brother, her best friend.

The lively, energetic, and outgoing little brother she once knew was now a quiet, sick, and very sleepy little boy.”

The beautiful photo of the pair (pictured above) has been shared more than 30,000 on social media. Not only does it show the reality of childhood cancer, Kaitlin said it captured perfectly just how dedicated Aubrey was to her brother.

Beckett Burge and Aubrey. childhood cancer

Source: Facebook/Beckett Strong

Through Good Times and Bad

“When he got sick, she wasn’t sure what was happening or why, but she continued to stick by him,” Kaitlin says.

“She Face-Timed him. She came up to see him. It was important to me to keep her involved as much as possible. He prefers her to us when he throws up.”

Beckett will continue chemotherapy until August 2021, but his prognosis is good. His hair is growing back and he is re-learning how to walk and hold a pencil. All with Aubrey’s help, of course.

She has always been very nurturing. When he is sick she runs to get him water. She helps him into his pjs and tucks him into bed. They have separate bedrooms but they like to sleep together,” — says Kaitlin.

“If Aubrey wakes up and he isn’t there she starts crying. She insists on knowing where he is at all times.”

Aubrey has recently started kindergarten but gives her brother pretend homework when she gets home. She’s desperately looking forward to the day when he will be well enough to join her at school. (We’re certain she’ll have his back in the playground.)

Kaitlin’s post has since gone viral. Her family has received tremendous support from family, friends and strangers. It’s these types of stories that remind us how important our family is and how vital it is to support those around us, particularly those families who need it most.


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Author

Jillian Berry is the exhausted mother of four spirited daughters. Once a journo and editor, she now enjoys torturing her children with zucchini. When she’s not searching for her phone charger, she can be found trying to remember her password, which she only reset yesterday. She fantasizes about escaping to a remote island with her Kindle and a giant jar of Nutella. She’s also a (provisional) psychologist who’d love to make the world a better place, if only she could find the energy.

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