November 27th, 2016: The family of 4 year old Jessica Whelan, whom Harry Styles recently sent a recorded message to, have posted on her Facebook page, which they used for updates on her brave battle with neuroblastoma, that her funeral will be Monday, November 28th at 10:45 in Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in her hometown of Oswaldtwistle. Her father expressed their deep gratitude to all those who have given such outpouring of support, including strangers around the world, through the months of Jessica’s journey fighting for her life. They have been touched by the outpouring of people wishing to say goodbye to Jessica, and while family and close friends have priority in the church seating, they have extended the invitation to attend this part of Jessica’s funeral. They further explain that the remainder of the service be only for the family to allow them their privacy as they say their last goodbye to Jessica.
Many have expressed the desire to send flowers in her memory and, while touched with the thoughtful sentiment, her parents have asked that donations in remembrance of her be made instead to one of the two charities they have selected (details on the selected charities will follow).
Jessica came to the attention of the world through the eyes of her photographer father, Andy, as he documented with a heart-wrenching and honest photograph what he called “the true face of cancer”. He said that this image of his 4 year old daughter, writhing in pain before the morphine gave some relief, “needed to be seen” as it showed what Jessica and so many other children with cancer go through.
Andy wanted to raise awareness of what neuroblastoma looks like on the face of a young loved one in hopes that support in funding and much needed research can end this disease. This photograph did just that!
Jessica’s father Andy, posted on Facebook today that tomorrow is a very important day for all families in the UK. Indeed, tomorrow November 28th the petition asking to increase funding for pediatric cancer research will be debated by the government. Research onto pediatric cancer has been lagging behind and children affected by cancer have had to rely on the use of obsolete treatment or treatments that were designed for adults, leading to poor prognosis and devastating side effects. Andy ends his post with this poignant quote:
“How good would it be if the day of Jessica’s funeral was also the day of change going forward!”
The petition will be debated between 16:30 and 19:30 in Westminster Hall and can be viewed live via http://parliamentlive.tv/
If you want to support research into childhood cancer or send donations to charities that support families with children affected by cancer, please consider also these charities: Cancer Research UK, Trekstock, Stacey’s Smiles, Niamh’s Next Step, McMillan Cancer Support, and Solving Kids Cancer.