Jessica Whelan, 4-years-old, has lost her battle with stage four neuroblastoma.
Andy Whelan, Jessica’s father, brought awareness to her condition after he took an emotional photo showing the suffering she endured from the terminal cancer.
Andy Whelan is a photographer and battled with himself regarding whether or not to post an image he took that portrayed Jessica in one of her most horrific moments. However, after some thought, he chose to share the heartbreaking image with the world via Facebook in the hope that it would bring awareness to her suffering and coerce additional research on childhood cancer so that maybe, just maybe, another little girl in the future may not have to endure the same pain and suffering that little Jessica did.
“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.”
Jessica was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in September of 2015, according to Metro. At the time, she was given just weeks to live, yet her parents chose to allow treatment, keeping hope alive that Jessica’s life might be extended, or at least be more comfortable as the clock ticked away. However, just earlier this year, Jessica’s parents had to make the painful decision, at the direction of doctors, to stop treatment and simply watch as Jessica fought on her own, until the final day.
A GoFundMe page was set up for Jessica, raising £76,000 just so Jessica’s last days could be enjoyed however she wished. Celebrities, such as Harry Styles, reached out to Jessica to provide their well-wishes and support during her final days.
Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that is most often found in young children, according to the BBC. It develops in nerve cells that are still present from a baby’s development in the womb.
Although she fought hard through her suffering, Jessica succumbed to her cancer at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday morning, bringing both sadness and relief to Jessica’s parents.
Andy Whelan posted on Jessica’s Facebook page, sharing the sad news with her nearly 100,000 followers.
“I feel both sadness and relief in informing you all that Jessica finally found peace at seven o’clock this morning. No longer does she suffer, no longer does she feel the pain of the physical constraints of her body.”
Andy shared Jessica’s final moments with the followers, the sadness present in the tone of his words.
“Last night she finally allowed me to hold her in my arms and we had a big cuddle as I told her how much I loved her. I told her again that it was okay for her to close her eyes and go to sleep and I kissed her forehead and her lips numerous times. It seems like this is what she needed to finally allow her to find comfort in her passing as within eight hours of this cuddle she finally took her final breath. She was a daddy’s girl from the start and even right up to the end. I feel like a massive part of me has just been torn away but I am so glad that I could give her that comfort in her final hours. She passed peacefully and calmly with not even a murmur.”
Andy Whelan’s documentation of Jessica’s struggle up until her final breath not only brings awareness to childhood cancers but also adds a face to the suffering that is experienced. As a father, it was probably the hardest thing he ever did. However, through the process, he has become an unsung hero of the battle against childhood cancer, as he brought awareness to the cause in hopes that one day a cure may be found.
[Featured Image by Anut21ng Photo/Shutterstock]