(Facebook/Prayers for Ellie Walton)
When Sarah Whalton brought her daughter, Ellie, home for the last time, everyone cried. Two months ago, Ellie died after a lifelong battle with childhood cancer, and when Sarah finally got to bring her home, she had to bring her daughter’s ashes home in a box. She didn’t know what to do when she brought Ellie home, but after four years, one thing is natural: Babies go in car seats. So Sarah buckled the box containing Ellie’s ashes into her car seat, with her little pair of pink sunglasses sitting next to it. It’s awful and heartbreaking. Nobody should ever have to take a photo like this.
“I was scared, but buckling you in felt normal,” Whalton wrote to Ellie. “Even though None of this is normal, none of this is right. You should be here.”
Ellie was diagnosed with brain cancer at just four months old, and she’s been in treatment and chemo and struggling with cancer her entire life, until she died on January 15.
“It’s been two months since I last kissed your cheek or played with your hair,” Whalton wrote. “It’s been two months of pure torture, agony, and despair. All I want back is our daily life, whatever they entailed, I want it back. I want hospital visits back, and chemo back, I want your laughter, and your joyous heart back. The things that brought my heart so much pain, only a few months ago, I so desperately want back today.”
Whalton ended her heartbreaking letter with the hashtag #MoreThan4, because only four percent of all cancer funding goes towards pediatric cancers. After accidents, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children, and more than 10,000 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the U.S. But children’s cancers are not the same as adult cancers. They have different causes and may or may not respond to treatments the same way adult cancers do. That’s why it’s pressing that more research happen for pediatric cancers, because children’s care deserves to be more of a research priority, too.