21 Sep 2017

Heartbroken Father of Young Girl Who Battled Cancer for 12 Months Speaks Out About Her Final Moments

A completely heartbroken father of a young girl who battled cancer for several months, has spoken out about his daughter's final moments.
Jessica passed away in November 2016 after a battle with neuroblastoma (Picture: Andy Whelan)

Andy Whelan, the father who broke hearts with photos of his young daughter battling cancer has revealed that he cuddled and read to her after she had died.

According to Metro UK report, a photo taken by Andy Whelan, 31, from Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire, stuck a chord with people all over the world last year.

It showed his daughter Jessica grimacing and crying while undergoing chemotherapy to treat her neuroblastoma.

She passed away just three weeks later, on November 20, 2016 at the age of four.

Andy has now spoken for the first time about those agonising first 24 hours after Jessica’s death.

He told MailOnline that he and his partner, 29-year-old Nicky Prendergrast, decided that Jessica should stay at home, in her own bed, for 24 hours after she died. This allowed him to give her a cuddle, and to read her favourite story to her.

‘We had family that wanted to come down and say their goodbyes in the comfort of our home and our surroundings, not a funeral home and coffin,’ he said.

‘On the Sunday evening I read her favourite story to her and we were able to cuddle up to her.’
Jessica’s parents kept her body at home for 24 hours after she passed away (Picture: Andy Whelan)

Jessica’s body was picked up the next morning at 11.30am, before being taken for a postmortem at Manchester University Hospital so they could check if she was able to donate her tissue towards research.

The last 10 months have been hard for Andy. He has suffered from depression and nightmares. He also found her birthday in January particularly difficult, and he didn’t celebrate his own birthday at the end of June.

Now, he has to work up the courage to even look at photos of Jessica.

But when he thinks of the image of Jessica in agony, he remembers that he and Nicky made the right decision to end treatment.

‘It’s hard to gauge, but when she first passed away there was almost a sense of relief because she’d been through so much, especially in those final two weeks,’ he said.

‘The day she actually passed away, we’d almost been praying, begging for her to go to sleep and not wake up.’

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