A mother of three took to Facebook last week amid her young son's battle with cancer to highlight the impact the disease has had on her whole family.
Kaitlin Burge, of Princeton, Texas, shared a heartbreaking photo of her son, 4-year-old Beckett, hunched over a toilet ready to vomit while his sister, 5-year-old Aubrey, comforted the sick child by rubbing his back.
"One thing they don’t tell you about childhood cancer is that it affects the entire family," Burge wrote on the Facebook page Beckett Strong, where she shares updates on her son's fight against acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Burge went on to describe how the relationship between the two children, who she describes as best friends, changed drastically following Beckett's 2018 cancer diagnosis.
"You always hear about the financial and medical struggles, but how often do you hear about the struggles families with other children face?" she wrote. "To some, this may be hard to see and read."
"My two kids, 15 months apart, went from playing in school and at home together to sitting in a cold hospital room together," she continued. "My then 4 year-year-old watched her brother go from an ambulance to the ICU. She watched a dozen doctors throw a mask over his face, poke and prod him with needles, pump a dozen medications through his body, all while he laid there helplessly. She wasn’t sure what was happening. All she knew was that something was wrong with her brother, her best friend."
Although Beckett has been released from the hospital, Burge notes that her daughter still remains heavily affected as she watches her beloved brother "struggle to walk and struggle to play."
"The lively, energetic, and outgoing little brother she once knew was now a quiet, sick, and very sleepy little boy," Burge explained. "He never wanted to play. She didn’t understand how he was able to walk before this, but now he can’t even stand unassisted. She didn’t understand the different therapies he had to attend to gain his strength back. To her, it was something special he got to do that she didn’t. Why couldn’t they go to their favorite trampoline park anymore? Why couldn’t they go to the splash pads they previously went to? Why didn’t he have to go back to school, but she did?"
Despite all the heartbreak, Burge says she remains confident in her decision to keep Aubrey close to her brother during every step of his hard-fought battle and recovery.
"Children need support and togetherness, and should not be kept at a distance from the person who is ill," Burge wrote in her post, which has now been shared over 32,000 times. "The most important thing is to show that they are taken care of regardless of the situation. She spent a fair amount of time, by his side in the bathroom, while he got sick. She stuck by him. She supported him and she took care of him, regardless of the situation. To this day, they are closer. She always takes care of him."
"Vomiting between play sessions. Waking up to throw up. Standing by her brother's side and rubbing his back while he gets sick," she added. "Going from 30 lbs to 20 lbs. This is childhood cancer. Take it or leave it."