One out of every 285 children will be diagnosed with some form of cancer before their 20th birthday.
And as if those odds weren’t shocking enough, globally, one child receives a life-altering diagnosis every three minutes. Just three minutes is all it takes to transform a picture-perfect family into one struggling to cope with the ongoing medical treatments required to keep their child alive. That’s something the Whelan family knows all too well.
Meet four-year-old Jessica Whelan.
A year ago, Jessica was just your average little girl who enjoyed being a kid. When she wasn’t chasing her friends on the playground, she was spending quality time with her family. She had the rest of her life to look forward to and with less than a year until she was to start school, her mind was already racing toward what she wanted to be when she grew up.
But life can change in the blink of an eye, and Jessica’s future suddenly wasn’t so clear thanks to a life-threatening diagnosis.
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This incredible fighter has been battling stage-four neuroblastoma since September 2015 after spending more than 10 weeks in the hospital suffering from undiagnosed arm and leg pains.
Prior to being discharged, doctors decided to give the little one more examination, during which they discovered a mass in her stomach.
An ultrasound revealed that there was a mass surrounding her liver, but it wasn’t until after an MRI that Jessica received her cancer diagnosis.
After more than three months of chemotherapy and a clinical drug trial, Jessica’s mass had yet to shrink in size.
Spending large amounts of time in and out of the hospital, Jessica has befriended many fellow patients and nurses along the way who help keep her spirits up.
Things were finally starting to look up for Jessica. Her hair began growing back and her energy levels were on the rise. Having finished another drug trial, her parents were excited to hear the results. Sadly, the mass had not gotten any smaller.
By that point, doctors were searching for ways to prolong Jessica’s life rather than cure the cancer. In her most recent visit, she and her family learned that the cancer had spread to other parts of her body. Tiny Jessica was given just months left to live.
Rather than let his daughter live out the rest of her life in a haze on cancer treatments, Andy and his partner Nicki have opted to forgo treatments and let Jessica live life to the fullest.
Jessica is spending the last of her days enjoying life like any other kid. No matter her circumstances, she has remained in good spirits with a smile on her face.
Andy shared this heartbreaking post on Facebook showcasing the dark side of cancer. The side where pain and helplessness overtake a little girl whose time is running out.
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Many organizations such as the American Childhood Cancer Association and the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer are fighting to help children like Jessica beat cancer once and for all. A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help make Jessica’s final days memorable.