Why A Dad Captured This Heartbreaking Photo Of His 4-Year-Old Daughter Dying Of Cancer
This black and white photo of a four-year-old, her body stiffened and her face contorted in pain with her translucent skin showing veins protruding out of her chest as she rides out her searing pain in solitude is what cancer looks like
It's a photo her father, Andy Whelan, wishes he never took because it's the hardest photo he has ever taken.
In a Facebook post on a page, he created for his daughter, Jessica Whelan, the photographer father writes:
"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."
He describes the moment he captured the photo, a sight which has become a familiar one to him and his family
"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," reads the post that has now gone viral with over 41K Reactions and more than 9K Comments.
"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 its 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."
Little Jessica was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, the most common solid tumour occurring outside the brain in children. It has ravaged her body, making it deteriorate at a rapid speed.
And it was this reason - the darkness of childhood cancer and the hell that it brings - that made her father, Andy Whelan, to make the heartbreaking post on Facebook.
He wanted to show what cancer does to a child in their final weeks so that it can "make people think twice about this evil" and prompt more research so a cure could be found.
"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," he ends the post, pleading to whoever is reading it online.
Jessica, who is constantly on a high dose of morphine so she can tolerate the pain, doesn't even know what she's going through. At her age, she's too young to understand.
According to a report in the Daily Mail Online, Jessica's parents decided to end her treatment in October, after being told that she only have weeks to live.
"There are other clinical trials, but nothing that would make a difference for Jessica. So we had to decide whether we wanted to continue treatment or let her enjoy a 'normal' life in the time she has left. Those studies would be pumping her full of chemicals to keep her alive for our sake, but it's Jessica that matters, not us," Andy said.
UPDATE 23 November
Jessica passed away this Sunday, 20 November. Her father, while sharing the heartbreaking news on Facebook, wrote:
"No longer does she suffer, no longer does she feel the pain of the physical constraints of her body. Now my princess has grown her angel wings and has gone up to play with her friends and loved ones. She passed peacefully and calmly with not even a murmur."