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Posted on: September 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

Having to watch helplessly while your child suffer indescribable pain is something no parent should have to experience. Your inability to take their pain away, would make you feel as though you’d failed them, as though you let them down. To make matters, somehow, even worse, this child is no older than a toddler. 

28-year-old mom-of-three, Kaitlin Burge, from Princeton Texas, shared a powerful photo with the world that showed how she gained some comfort from her pain [1]. In April 2018, her four-year-old son, Beckett Burge, then two, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This is a type of cancer that originates in white blood cells and most commonly affects young children [2]. This poor child was in a lot of pain and had to undergo dozens of procedures in the hospital, including chemotherapy, blood and platelet transfusions. 

Aubrey is Beckett’s 5-year-old sister, who is just 14 months older. According to Kaitlin, the two children have an incredible bond that words can’t begin to describe. In January this year, Kaitlin captured a heartwarming moment where Beckett was bent over the toilet seat, painfully vomiting, while his sister stood by his side, rubbing his back and comforting him. She explains that Aubrey is extremely protective of her brother and would even carry him around, even though she’s not much bigger than him.

She just picked up from experience and took over,” Kaitlin said, as Daily Mail reports [3]. “She’d rub his back and tell him it was going to be okay, clean his face up and wash his hands for him. Right after that happened, she also carried him back to the living room and put him on the couch. She asked me she could clean up the bathroom too, but I told her to go and sit down because that wasn’t her job. She takes it upon herself to help and make sure everything he comes into contact with is clean. She’s another set of eyes.”

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Kaitlin says the photo made her happy and deeply broke her heart at the same time.

When I see them together, it makes me happy but at the same time, it makes me sad. They have an incredible bond. To this day, they are closer, and she always takes care of him,” she said. 

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Beckett’s diagnosis

Kaitlin says that Aubrey loves gymnastics, but ever since her little brother got sick, she hasn’t been interested in anything other than his wellbeing. She’s only five and shouldn’t have to deal with so much worry and mental strain. Her mother explained that the girl doesn’t go out to play with her friends anymore since her entire life revolves around comforting her brother. 

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She’s always worried about where he is, what he’s doing, who he’s with. Her having to do things by herself was not something she was used to doing and she didn’t want to do it,” Kaitlin said.

When Beckett got sick, Aubrey didn’t know exactly what was wrong with him. All she knew was that her best friend was no longer himself. Kaitlin, who is also mom to baby Chandler explains that during Beckett’s first stay at the hospital, his sisters were in different places at the time. Aubrey was with her grandmother while Chandler stayed with her uncle. When they reunited, Aubrey immediately noticed that all was not well with her usually cheerful brother.

“When he came home it was the day of her birthday, it was her first time seeing him since he had been diagnosed,” she explained. “He was very petite, couldn’t walk and he’d lost a lot of weight. To her, it was very odd and he looked different. We weren’t really sure how to handle the situation or if we wanted her to know what was going on. But whenever he came home Aubrey was trying to work out why he didn’t want to play – it wasn’t like him.”

He slept all the time and needed help doing things he could by himself before. Aubrey was always there to help him and comfort him when he was in pain.

Aubrey learns about her brother’s illness

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After spending a painful month in the hospital, Beckett came home on Aubrey’s fifth birthday. He was weak, smaller, exhausted, and sad. Her brother was a different person and the girl began to ask questions. The formerly energetic and goofy kid was gone. Aubrey’s parents initially tried to shield her young heart from the truth, but her old soul wouldn’t stay calm.

We took pictures of him while in hospital and she scrolls through them on my phone,” Kaitlin said. “She asks a lot of questions, she’s a very smart little girl. She’ll go to a picture and ask ‘why does he have a mask on?’ and we’ll tell her. She’s 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.”

Her parents then began to explain the seriousness of the situation to her. She may be five, but they believed her bond with her brother had given her a right to understand his condition. They wanted her to know that although it’s not as mild as something that he ate upsetting him or the kids playing too roughly, he’s a strong kid who will pull through soon enough.

We explained everything to her and got our social worker involved,” her mom explained. “We’ve been very open with her so that any questions that she ever has we talk through it with her, we explain it with Beckett in the room as well. He’ll tell people ‘I have cancer.’ He knows what he has. We make sure she’s very supportive and knows it doesn’t make him any different.”

Recovery

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Beckett was diagnosed in April 2018, and according to the doctors’ estimations, he’ll be requiring continued chemo and treatment up until August 2021. He has to take chemotherapy medication every night, and he’s still in a lot of pain, but they’re hopeful about his condition and his chances of survival.

His situation started overnight with an ear infection,” his mother said. “There were no things leading up to it that would even suggest cancer. He has chemo every single night, then has an anti-fungal for an infection he had when officially diagnosed. He’s on the normal protocol – the steroids every month for five days, going to the clinic for chemo through his port, then a pill at home every night.”

The little kid has a long way to go, but he has a loving family and a supportive sister who will always be there for him. Having a loving and caring elder sister is one of the best things that could happen to a person.

Aubrey still worries about her brother’s health and happiness, but her parents try to let her know that things will be okay. She doesn’t deserve to go through so much pain at a young age, even though her brother means the world to her. She’s due to start pre-school this summer and would hopefully have a great time at school.

We wish Beckett and every other sick child out there a quick recovery.  

  1. Julia Banim. Sister Comforts Sick Brother Battling Leukaemia In Heartbreaking Photo. Unilad. https://www.unilad.co.uk/health/sister-comforts-poorly-brother-battling-leukaemia-in-heartbreaking-photo/. Retrieved 10-09-19
  2. Staff Writer. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acute-lymphocytic-leukemia/symptoms-causes/s
  3. Ryan Fahey. Mother shares heartbreaking pictures of her five-year-old daughter gently rubbing her four-year-old brother’s back as he bends over a toilet after chemotherapy has ravaged his little body. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7443049/A-mums-heartbreaking-photo-captures-childs-struggle-cancer.html. Retrieved 10-09-19
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