A MUM who shared a heartbreaking photo of her little girl rubbing her brother’s back while he was being sick from chemotherapy has shared an update on her brave son.
Beckett Burge was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in April 2018 and spent months in hospital having treatment.
In a picture posted to social media in 2019, Beckett who was just 4-years-old at the time, was being comforted by his sister Aubrey, 5, whilst being sick.
Now, Mum Kaitlin Burge, 30, has revealed that her son has finally been given the all clear.
Kaitlin, who lives in Texas, US said Beckett, now six, is back at school and was able to ring the end of chemo bell last week.
Kaitlin said: “When we heard he’d got the all clear, it was so exciting. His oncologist came in and said ‘no more chemo – we’re done. Get rid of everything’.
“Beckett was shocked [when he got the all-clear]. His face lit up but then he said he didn’t want his port out because he knew it’d kept him alive. He has a bit of nerves.
“He’s officially done with it and it is a bittersweet moment.
“You think you’ll be all happy but now it’s kind of scary because you don’t have that chemo as a reassurance the cancer’s going to stay away. It’ll be a whole new world.”
Kaitlin had previously decided to release the striking image of her children to show the importance of family in times of crisis.
It shows Aubrey comforting her brother as he leans over the toilet being sick.
Kaitlin says that after the snap, Aubrey then washed her brother’s hands and carried him to the couch before offering to clean the bathroom.
Kaitlin said that Aubrey had ‘such a big impact’ on helping her brother get through cancer.
She explained that Aubrey had been a motherly figure to her brother, but now that he is off chemo, he has become more independent.
Any time that Aubrey tries to help her brother he insists that he can do it himself.
Kaitlin said they can now play together like normal siblings.
But it hasn’t always been that easy and when Beckett was first diagnosed, he spent a month in hospital around his sisters’ fifth birthday.
The youngster underwent chemotherapy, blood transfusions and platelet transfusions during his stay.
While he was in hospital, the children were split up and cared for by other relatives – Aubrey went to her grandma’s house.
The family sent their youngest daughter Chandler, who is nearly two, to live at her uncle’s house.
When they were reunited, they hadn’t seen each other since Beckett was diagnosed.
Kaitlin said: “Beckett was very petite, couldn’t walk and he’d lost a lot of weight. To Aubrey it was very odd and he looked different.
“We weren’t really sure how to handle the situation or if we wanted her to know what was going on.
“But whenever he came home Aubrey was trying to work out why he didn’t want to play – it wasn’t like him.
“She wondered why he was sleeping all the time and needed help to the bathroom. He would just be sick and he’d never been sick before.
She’d rub his back and tell him it was going to be okay, clean his face up and wash his hands for him
“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.”
Aubrey would look through pictures of her brother and ask questions about all the medical equipment surrounding him, desperate to have her play buddy back, Kaitlin added.
Kaitlin said: “We took pictures of him while in hospital and she scrolls through them on my phone.
“She’ll go to picture and ask ‘why does he have a mask on?’ and we’ll tell her. 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.”
What is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia?
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow.
Adults and children can get it but it is most often diagnosed in younger people.
It’s very rare, with around 650 people diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK.
Many symptoms of ALL are vague and non specific. It may feel like the flu as symptoms are caused by too many abnormal white blood cells and not enough normal white cells, red cells and platelets.
Symptoms can include:
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Frequent infections
- General weakness
- Weight loss
- Joint pain
- Pale skin
- Swollen glands
It is a genetic change in the stem cells that causes immature white blood cells to be released into the bloodstream.
However, it’s not clear what causes the DNA mutation to occur.
The main treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is chemotherapy, and usually steroids as well.
Treatment with a targeted cancer drug might also be used as well. Some people will need a stem cell transplant.
The outlook for adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia isn’t as promising as in children.
Around 40 per cent of people aged between 25 and 64 will live for five years or more after receiving their diagnosis.
In those aged 65 or over, around 15 per cent will live for five years or more after being diagnosed.
Source: Cancer Research UK
Beckett shown incredible strength despite having to have chemotherapy pills every night and needing regular hospital treatment.
Kaitlin said: “His situation started overnight with an ear infection. There were no things leading up to it that would even suggest cancer.”
Now that he has the all clear, Kaitlin said they are seeing more of a ‘normal kid’.
She said: “He’s also got the side effects of the chemo that he’s dealing with. He’s got leg pain and struggles a little bit.
“Overall, he’s happy. When he gets his port out in two weeks it’ll be the icing on the cake for him.
“They can play as normal siblings now. I walk with them in the morning to school but they’ll bike home together.
“They’re outside playing together and being kids now. Aubrey’s now on a competitive cheer team.”
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