Jessica Whelan became known world-wide as the young cancer patient who had the world in tears because of her tragic story. Pictures of her heart-breaking tragedy were available online and her father was the man behind the camera. Eventually, her devastated father Andy wrote on Facebook that the youngster had “finally found peace” at 7am on Sunday after her fight against the disease was seen by millions around the world.
£76,000 were raised by strangers for Jessica’s treatment and so that she could enjoy her final weeks after being diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in September.
Her father wrote the following:
“No longer does she suffer, no longer does she feel the pain of the physical constraints of her body.
“Now my princess has grown her angel wings and has gone up to play with her friends and loved ones.
“She will now watch down over her little brother and ourselves until one day we are reunited again.
“Last night she finally allowed me to hold her in my arms and we had a big cuddle as I told her how much I loved her.
“I told her again that it was okay for her to close her eyes and go to sleep and I kissed her forehead and her lips numerous times.
“It seems like this is what she needed to finally allow her to find comfort in her passing as within eight hours of this cuddle she finally took her final breath.
“She was a daddy’s girl from the start and even right up to the end.
“I feel like a massive part of me has just been torn away but I am so glad that I could give her that comfort in her final hours. She passed peacefully and calmly with not even a murmur.”
Right before passing away, Jessica manage to find the strength to embrace her father despite the immense pain caused by her cancer.
“Every day has been a battle to get her and keep her comfortable using pain relief and sedatives.
“Through all the pain relief and sedatives she has still not had the comfort to allow me to do anything more than rest my hand upon her, perhaps hold her hand and occasionally kiss her dried pale lips.
“Last night however we managed to get her body to absorb enough of the medicines that this time when changing her bedding, instead of having to merely move her onto our bed, Jessica actually let me and seemed comforted to have me pick her up and rest her on myself for around twenty minutes or so.
“I can honestly say it was probably the best and most cherished cuddle we have shared in a long time” said Andy.
The family decided to end Jessica’s treatment when the doctors announced that there’s nothing they could do further more.
The nightmare began when Jessica was given an X-ray at Blackburn Hospital in July 2015 after injuring her shoulder. She was initially diagnosed with a bone infection and inflammation and was prescribed antibiotics, but after months with no improvement, the couple was given the devastating news. An ultrasound scan confirmed the suspicions –a growth around her liver and kidneys.
When the photos of their little angel were released, Andy and Jessica’s mum Nicki Pendergast, said they wanted people to take a long look at “the true face of cancer”.
When the photos were released, the family got mixed reactions after it reached half a million people in just 24 hours.
“We knew the photo would challenge people, that it would evoke strong emotions.
“And I battled with myself: should we share this? But I knew it needed to be seen.
“So many photos show smiling bald children in hospital wards surrounded by santas, actors and celebrities, their happy faces full of hope, which is uplifting.
“But this is not the everyday face of childhood cancer, which is brutal and painful and shocking” Andy told the Daily Mail.