Photographer and father Andy Whelan is receiving an outpouring of support from across the globe after sharing a heartbreaking photo of his 4-year-old daughter’s fight against cancer.
Whelan has been documenting Jessica’s struggle with neuroblastoma through a Facebook page for over a year, and was recently told by doctors that his daughter likely only has a few weeks to live.
“As a photographer it is important to capture the truth and the reality of a situation, too easy it becomes to capture the joy of life whilst discarding the torture that we see,” Whelan writes. “This is the hardest photograph I have ever made…”
The photographer says that he wants his photo to show the world “the true face of cancer” — the horror that childhood cancer inflicts on countless children and their parents around the world.
“This photograph was made in a moment that we as parents could offer her no comfort, her pushing us away whilst she rode out this searing pain in solitude,” he says. “This is the true face of cancer, my baby girls blood vessels protruding from beneath her skin, a solitary tear running down her cheek, her body stiffened and her face contorted in pain.”
Whelan’s photo has received over 44,000 responses, 15,000 shares, and 9,500 comments from people wishing to show the family their support. Other parents have posted their own photos of childhood cancer in the comments.
“With this photo I do not mean to offend or upset, I do mean however to educate and shock those that see it in it’s context,” says Whelan. “If this photograph only serves as a purpose to make people think twice about this evil and put into perspective what it does to a child then it has achieved its purpose.”
“Please I beg of you, as a heartbroken father, it is too late for my daughter, but childhood cancer needs to be cured. No family should have to go through this hell.”
If you wish to help the family out financially, there’s a GoFundMe that’s raising funds that will go toward Jessica’s “care and enjoyment” in her last days.
Image credit: Photograph by Andy Whelan and used with permission