Photos of a 5-year-old girl supporting her 4-year-old brother went viral after their mother shared a post on how “childhood cancer impacts the whole family,” Alexandria Hein of American media company Fox News Network. The photos depict the side effects of chemotherapy and how it disrupts the siblings’ playtime. On September 3, Kaitlin Burge, a mother of three from Princeton, Texas, wrote about how everyone hears about the financial and medical struggles of childhood cancer. However, she pointed out that no one is talking about how it “affects the entire family.”
Kaitlin added, “But how often do you hear about the struggles families with other children face?” For some people, her post “may be hard to see and read.” Kaitlin’s children, who are 15 months part, went from playing in school and at home to sitting in a hospital room. The images were posted on the Facebook page “Beckett Strong.” The page was created when Beckett, Kaitlin’s son, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) last April 2018.
It is the most common form of leukemia found in children, accounting for about 30% of all pediatric cancer. ALL affects the lymphocytes or the “immature forms of white blood cells.” Lymphocytes help identify and destroy foreign proteins in the human body. In the case of ALL, the bone marrow produces too many lymphocytes “that do not mature correctly” and are unable to fight infection, as stated by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Symptoms of ALL may present as “anemia, bleeding or bruising, bone and joint pain, recurrent fevers or infections, abdominal pain, swollen lymph nodes or difficulty breathing.” Usually, treatment takes place in three or more states, possibly consisting of chemotherapy, antibiotics, blood transfusion, radiation or blood, and marrow transplantation.
In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness, Kaitlin wrote in a previous post that Beckett’s daycare requested her to pick up her child due to fever on April 23, 2018. An after-hours pediatric center diagnosed Beckett with ear infection and prescribed antibiotics. If Beckett’s symptoms did not improve, his regular pediatrician recommended to come back or go to the emergency room.
The following day, the child’s temperature skyrocketed to 104, prompting his doctor to send them to Children’s Health in Plano. On September 15, 2018, Beckett’ s pediatrician found that he has a hemoglobin of 5.5 and a white blood cell count of 150,000, Kaitlin narrated. The CT scan also came with pneumonia in his left lung. The Burge family moved to a hospital in Dallas, as Beckett was suffering from pneumonia and acute respiratory failure. His treatment ends in August 2021. Aubrey, Beckett’s sister, was permitted to accompany her sibling. According to Kaitlin, “Children need support and togetherness, and should not be kept at a distance from the person who is ill.”