Mom shares heart-shattering 'back-to-school' photo after losing daughter to cancer

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As parents across the globe are gearing up to ship their kids back off to school, ​​​​Julie Apicella is instead taking on a much more difficult task -- the British mom is spreading childhood cancer awareness, in memory of her daughter, Emily.

Apicella took to Facebook on September 7 to share a side-by-side 'first day of school' comparison photo from 2015 and 2016, and the difference is heart-wrenchingly clear.

On the right, we see a beaming little girl, all dressed up and ready for classes.

On the left, there is nothing but an empty room.

"School photo time," she wrote. "Obviously someone very special missing - my daughter Emily."

According to Fenland Citizen, Emily was diagnosed with a kidney cancer called Wilms' Tumor when she was only five years old.

Although she underwent multiple surgeries, transplants, and countless grueling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Emily tragically passed away in her home on December 14, 2015, surrounded by loved ones.

Since then, Apicella has made it her mission to spread the word about the terrible disease, especially during September, which is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

"I have asked my friends and family to change their profile pics to go gold and many have done this and I thank you," she wrote. "Those who haven't please consider changing yours, it takes seconds and you don't have to donate any money or your spleen in doing so."

"Nearly everyone on my list has children or family members and this could be your reality in the future," she continued, before dropping a jarring statistic.

1 in 285 children will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.

"Raising awareness of symptoms and that childhood cancer is not rare is the first hurdle to jump," she continued. "Eventually the gold ribbon of childhood cancer will be as well known as the pink ribbon for breast cancer but it takes people to actually post on social media ect [sic] for this to happen."

And thus far, it seems her post has done exactly what she intended it to do -- since she shared her story on Facebook, it has, in turn, been shared over 9,300 times.

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