A touching photo of a young girl comforting her brother after chemotherapy is breaking hearts around the world.
The image, taken by US mum Kaitlin Burge and posted on Facebook, perfectly encapsulates her family’s solidarity as their youngest child Beckett battles acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Instead of shielding her then five-year-old daughter Aubrey from what was happening to her brother, Kaitlin knew the siblings needed to be together, and Aubrey’s dedication and compassion - despite not fully understanding the extent of her brother’s illness - proved her right.
The photo she shared shows Aubrey standing by Beckett’s side as he leans over a toilet to be sick.
“My two kids, 15 months apart, went from playing in school and at home together to sitting in a cold hospital room together," Kaitlin wrote alongside the image.
“My then four-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.”
The family spent a month in hospital, but the journey continued to be a very difficult one after they returned home, with Beckett suffering from the side effects of treatment, and needing therapy to regain his strength.
One constant however, was his older sister Aubrey’s presence and support.
“The lively, energetic, and outgoing little brother she once knew was now a quiet, sick, and very sleepy little boy. He never wanted to play,” Kaitlin said.
“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.”
Kaitlin decided to share their story as she felt that childhood cancer was often talked about in terms of the financial burden it leaves families with, and she wanted to highlight the impact it also has on siblings who aren’t unwell.
She didn’t want her daughter to be kept separate and shield her from what was happening to her brother because she believes her children needed that togetherness to get through this.
“When I see them together, it makes me happy but at the same time it makes me sad,” she said.
“They have an incredible bond. To this day, they are closer, she always takes care of him.”