Cancer does not discriminate. It doesn’t care about your age, nationality, gender, or social status.
While any cancer diagnosis is no doubt a life-changing event, it can be utterly devastating when it targets the tiniest of our loved ones.
On September 3rd, 2019, brave Texas mum, Kaitlin Burge, shared an emotive post on a Facebook page she created to chronicle her 4-year-old’s childhood cancer battle and raise awareness about childhood cancer and its impact on the entire family.
‘This is childhood cancer. Take it or leave it’
You may remember this image or you may be seeing it for the first time. Either way, it’s heartbreaking and a powerful reminder of just how strong cancer warriors are.
In the touching black-and-white picture, Aubrey, his older sister, is seen standing by him as she rubs his back, a gentle sign of support and love for her little brother.
Alongside the images, Kaitlin wrote an incredibly powerful message, one that was shared around the world and brought in thousands and thousands of shares and words of support.
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?
To some, this may be hard to see and read. My two kids, 15 months apart, went from playing in school and at home together to sitting in a cold hospital room together. My then 4-year-old watched her brother go from an ambulance to the ICU. 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.
A little over a month after he was released from the hospital, she watched him struggle to walk and struggle to play. The lively, energetic, and outgoing little brother she once knew was now a quiet, sick, and very sleepy little boy. He never wanted to play.
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?
Why did we take his sister with us and why did she see all of this at a young age? Children need support and togetherness, and should not be kept at a distance from the person who is ill.
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 stuck by him. She supported him and she took care of him, regardless of the situation. To this day, they are closer. 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. This is childhood cancer. Take it or leave it.”
Through this touching photo and post, Beckett became a poster child for childhood cancer. Something he never asked for, and something he most certainly didn’t deserve.
The power of one photo
While Beckett’s cancer journey is completely unique to him, the photo holds a universal heartbreak. Thousand of families have been through this, or are currently going through the absolute horror that is a childhood cancer diagnosis.
And those families who have never gone through it pray that they never have to endure what Beckett and his family have endured.
What a brave soul and a beautiful little boy he is. And what an incredibly supportive big sister!
Rewind to April 25th, 2018. This is when Beckett’s parents, Kaitlin and Matthew Burge received the devastating news no parent is ever prepared to hear.
Their once “lively, energetic, and outgoing” little guy was taken by ambulance to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where he was diagnosed with Very High-Risk Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
At the time, Beckett also suffered from pneumonia in his left lung and acute respiratory failure.
According to their GoFundMe page, Beckett “spent 10 days in the ICU during the induction phase and was an inpatient for 35 days…33 of those…he was in complete isolation.”
The photo of Beckett and his sister was taken a year and a half after his diagnosis.
Kaitlin told USA TODAY that she decided to share her story because she wanted “to be the voice for families who are dealing with a sick child and raise awareness that siblings are also affected.”
Beckett, five years later
We are so happy to report, this brave little boy in the image above, is now a cheeky and amazing 8-year-old. He’s in the third grade and he’s welcomed his third sister to his world.
Beckett just joined baseball, can swim unassisted, and can ride a bike without training wheels.
He is also cancer-free.
Beckett finished his treatment at Children’s Medical Center Plano in Texas on October 15, 2021.On September 19, 2023, Kaitlin shared Beckett is “Officially 2 years off treatment!” Adding that he has “graduated from the normal clinic and [has] moved to the survivor clinic. He will go every 4 months instead of every 2 until age 18!”
Beckett is now a “free-wheeling kid” who hangs out with friends, tries new foods, and doesn’t have a lot of restrictions.
Beckett and Aubrey continue to be joined at the hip.
Having endured the unimaginable, Kaitlin admits to crying when she’s alone as she thinks about everything her little boy has gone through.
She told TODAY Parents in 2021,
“There was a time when doctors were telling us that Beckett was going to die. They sent a chaplain up and everything…I’m just so grateful he’s here.”
[To] other families that are out there going through cancer with their kids and their own family members, keep up the fight. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep your head up. Take it one day at a time.”
What an incredibly strong little boy and supportive family. To follow and support Beckett, head to Beckett Strong.