Mom's Heartbreaking First-Day-of-School Photo Shines a Light on Childhood Cancer

Julie Apicella share heartbreaking photo to remind us of childhood cancer awareness

As parents rush to pack their kids' backpacks and see them off to school, one UK mom hopes her Facebook post will strike a chord with moms and dads -- and help raise awareness for childhood cancer. After losing her 8-year-old daughter Emily to a rare kidney cancer last December, Julie Apicella shared a heartbreaking first-day-of-school photo that is a powerful visual, and a reminder of the realities parents with a child battling cancer face.


"Imagine if your school photo this year is the LAST you will ever be able to take and will just be a memory to remember."

Julie's side-by-side Facebook photo of her daughter Emily's first day of school in 2015 with an empty room this year, to signify her passing, will leave you speechless. 

It's so hard to think about, but it's a must-see.

Mom's touching image shines a light on September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and remembering the ones we lost. With an estimated 25,000 families learning their child has cancer around the world in September, we must do more.

And as Julie explains, it's not as hard as you think:

Raising awareness of symptoms and that childhood cancer is not rare is the first hurdle to jump. Eventually the gold ribbon of childhood cancer will be as well known as the pink ribbon for breast cancer but it takes people to actually post on social media ... for this to happen.

More from CafeMom: How to Help When a Friend's Child Has Cancer

Being a mother, I find it so hard to wrap my head around this nightmare so many parents face. To even think about not being able to kiss my boys -- and enjoy all the everyday activities we take for granted -- brings tears to my eyes.

My heart breaks for Julie and other moms and dads who have lost a child to cancer. I can't even begin to imagine the pain and truly hope each day gets a little easier to handle.

I often ask myself what I can do to get more involved and help make a difference -- and thankfully Julie has a recommendation we can all do right now:

I have asked my friends and family to change their profile pics to go gold and many have done this and I thank you, those who haven't please consider changing yours, it takes seconds and you don't have to donate any money or your spleen in doing so.

More from CafeMom: Mom's Plea to Turn National Landmark Gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness Goes Viral

Thank you, Julie, for sharing your photo. It's a poignant reminder for all of us to soak in each and every moment we have with our children.

Because as Julie says on Facebook, "This could be your reality in the future."


If you're moved to find out more ways to make a difference, please visit the American Childhood Cancer Organization, or consider making a donation to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. You can also "Go Gold" for childhood cancer awareness by visiting



Image via Julie Apicella/Facebook

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