Every parent’s worst nightmare is seeing their child suffer and its even more devastating when they can’t do anything about it. This was the situation 4 year old Jessica’s parents were in as they watched her suffer for more than a year.
It all started when Jessica was hospitalized for 10 weeks for a bone infection. Just when she was about to be released, doctors told her parents, Andy and Nicki, that they had discovered a mass in the 4-year-old’s tummy.
“It was devastating. Jessica was all ready to come home. She was even in her coat. Then we were told she’d need to stay in hospital for more tests.” Andy explained.
The mass turned out to be a cancer on Jessica’s liver. She immediately started treatment but the cancer only continued to spread to other parts of Jessica’s little body.
Doctors explained that the treatment wouldn’t cure Jessica, it would only prolong her life. Andy and Nicki wanted to do what was best for their child. So, they made the difficult decision to stop all treatments.
“The news felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest while someone sucked the air from my lungs,” Andy said.
Doctors said without treatment, Jessica would only have a few weeks left to live. As a photographer, Andy decided to use his camera to capture a moment from his baby girl’s final days in a bid to help others.
The heartbreaking photo is raising awareness on the harsh reality of childhood cancer. Andy hopes that, in raising awareness, his daughter’s story will inspire more efforts, funding and research to find a cure so that other families don’t have to go through such heartbreak.
Andrew’s heartbreaking Facebook post reads:
“As a photographer it is important to capture the truth and the reality of a situation, too easy it becomes to capture the joy of life whilst discarding the torture that we see.
This is the hardest photograph I have ever made, it is in fact my own four year old daughter.
A few days ago she was given what is most likely only a few weeks to live after a battle against cancer that has been waged for over twelve months. This photograph was made in a moment that we as parents could offer her no comfort, her pushing us away whilst she rode out this searing pain in solitude.”
“This sadly, for us as a family, is not a sight that we see rarely.
This is now a familiar sight that we see regularly through each day and night, its frequency now more often. This is the true face of cancer, my baby girls blood vessels protruding from beneath her skin, a solitary tear running down her cheek, her body stiffened and her face contorted in pain.
I could try and use a thousand words to describe this image that we as parents are confronted with on a daily basis but these words would fall short of truly depicting the sight we see.
With this photo I do not mean to offend or upset, I do mean however to educate and shock those that see it in it’s context. Perhaps by seeing this photo people not in our position will be made aware of the darkness that is childhood cancer, perhaps these same people may be able to do something about it so that in the future no child has to suffer this pain, so that no parent has to bear witness to their own flesh and blood deteriorating daily.
The only apologies I offer are to those that know Jessica, I understand that this photo is hard to see and even harder to absorb. To those that do not know Jessica I offer no apologies, this is what cancer does to a child in their final weeks and days!!!
Before her diagnosis I was one of those ignorant to the darkness of childhood cancer, not truly appreciating the hell that it brings.
It would never happen to us!
Now I give childhood cancer the respect it deserves, seeing too many children suffering this same fate and watching families torn apart.
If this photograph only serves as a purpose to make people think twice about this evil and put into perspective what it does to a child then it has achieved its purpose. Research needs to be done, cures need to be found, too long now has this been allowed to happen.
Please I beg of you, as a heartbroken father, it is too late for my daughter, but childhood cancer needs to be cured. No family should have to go through this hell.”
Sadly, not long after Andrew’s post Jessica’s battle ended and she went home to be with the Lord.
Our prayers go out to the family and we applaud Andy for having the bravery to share such a difficult time to try to help others.