A mother has shared a heartbreaking photograph of her daughter comforting her poorly little brother.
In August 2018, Beckett Burge was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a type of blood cancer which begins in young white blood cells in the bone marrow. He was just two years old at the time of his devastating diagnosis.
Since then, Beckett has had to endure lengthy periods of time spent in hospital; undergoing chemotherapy as well as blood transfusions and platelet transfusions. Through it all, the love and support his older sister Aubrey has shown him has been truly life-affirming.
Despite being just 14 months older, young Aubrey has proven herself to be a mature and deeply caring big sister. According to mum Kaitlin Burge, 28, Aubrey has developed an ‘incredible bond’ with her brother, who she describes as being her ‘best friend’.
Kaitlin, of Princeton, Texas, has spoken of how Aubrey will prefer to stay in and keep an eye on her little brother rather than head out to play with her friends.
In January, Kaitlin took a touching photograph of Aubrey taking care of Beckett while he leans over the toilet to be sick. The kind girl can be seen rubbing his back and offering reassurance.
After the photo was taken, Aubrey reportedly went to wash her hands before carrying her brother to the couch. She then asked her parents if she could help clean the bathroom.
Kaitlin decided to share the powerful image with the world to illustrate the importance of strong family bonds during difficult times.
Recalling the moment the photograph was taken, the mother-of-three said:
She didn’t know what was happening, but she knew from experience that when she was sick, we would rub her back and help her through it.
She just picked up from experience and took over. She’d rub his back and tell him it was going to be okay, clean his face up and wash his hands for him.
Right after that happened, she also carried him back to the living room and put him on the couch. She asked me she could clean up the bathroom too, but I told her to go and sit down because that wasn’t her job.
She takes it upon herself to help and make sure everything he comes into contact with is clean. She’s another set of eyes.
Speaking about the loving bond between the siblings, Kaitlin added:
When I see them together, it makes me happy but at the same time it makes me sad. They have an incredible bond. To this day, they are closer, she always takes care of him.
A child that’s four or five years old should be outside playing with their friends. She loves gymnastics and we had to put a stop to that because of the financial burden, it got too expensive with his situation.
She should be out doing gymnastics, running around the neighbourhood with the kids, playing in the playground, swimming in the pool – but here she is taking care of her brother.
They’re very close – they always played together. He’d play dolls with her and she’d play superheroes with him. We encourage her to go outside and do things, but she’d rather have her eyes on him.
After spending more than a month in hospital, Beckett came home to his family on Aubrey’s fifth birthday.
Beckett’s changed appearance led to Aubrey becoming concerned and confused about her once energetic little brother, with the ‘smart girl’ asking her parents various difficult questions.
She’s 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.
We explain that he got really sick, this is what happened, it was nothing he ate or did, nothing she did, it can’t be prevented and it’s not going to happen to her. We explained everything to her and got our social worker involved.
We’ve been very open with her so any questions that she ever has we talk through it with her, we explain it with Beckett in the room as well. He’ll tell people ‘I have cancer’, he knows what he has. We make sure she’s very supportive and knows it doesn’t make him any different.
It’s estimated brave Beckett, now four, will have to go through another two years of chemotherapy, with Aubrey continuing to be the most thoughtful sister and best friend a boy could ask for.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.