Childhood cancer is something that no family would ever want their kids to suffer through. Aside from the physical pain that it brings, the emotional and mental implications it has on the whole family dynamic is not often discussed.
It is a frightening and painful experience to watch your child fight against a disease that robs its sufferers of a regular life. A mother from Texas understands this dilemma all to well for her 4-year-old son, Beckett, is one of the warriors battling childhood cancer.
To show the realities of the disease, Kaitlyn Burge decided to share photos of Beckett leaning over a toilet while his 5-year-old sister Aubrey stood by to keep guard. Over a year ago, the family learned that the little boy had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“Vomiting between play sessions. Waking up to throw up. Standing by her brother’s side and rubbing his back while he gets sick,” she wrote. “This is childhood cancer. Take it or leave it.”
According to Kaitlyn, she took the photos last January, but they represent a “typical day in the life” for her son. Beckett’s treatment involves taking chemotherapy pills every night and monthly visits to a clinic where he received chemo through a port. With the treatment comes nausea.
She said the pictures depict how childhood cancer affects the family.
Kaitlyn said that her “family’s been split up”, sharing that she sends her other children to stay with their grandmother while Beckett is in the hospital. “We’re all tired. Your relationships are tried. You lose a lot of friends. You don’t get to go out and live the life you’ve been living prior to this.”
Focusing on how to make Beckett get better means that she has less time to spend with Aubrey and her 23-month old daughter.
“The siblings are forgotten about a lot of the time. They make a lot of sacrifices that people don’t realize,” Kaitlyn added.
As the older sister, Aubrey has stayed by Beckett’s side in the hospital and at home. Initially, she didn’t understand why her previously playful younger brother just slept all the time, didn’t go to school, and couldn’t walk unassisted.
“She was so used to being the big sister,” Kaitlyn told CNN. “Her world flipped.”
Beckett’s treatment will end in August 2021 and for the Burge family, three more years seems like an eternity. Since her son’s treatment has become increasingly costly, a friend set up a GoFundMe for Beckett’s medical expenses.
When her son was diagnosed with cancer, Kaitlyn admitted that she felt all alone. But when other parents of children expressed their support for her through her post, she felt encouraged knowing that there was such a community she didn’t know existed.
“Finding positive, I think, in the ugly, is a good outlook on life,” Kaitlyn said.
While it is hard to imagine what their families go through on a daily basis, it is true that finding the silver lining in a difficult situation could immensely help people cope with tough circumstances. And Kaitlyn’s experience just proves that though it may sometimes feel like it, the truth is you are never alone.