The little girl pictured above, writhing in pain due to her cancer, has lost her battle with the disease.

Four-year-old Jessica Whelan's photograph reduced many people to tears with the frank portrayal of what it's really like to see your child suffering. It was taken by her dad, Andy Whelan.

Andy, from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, posted the above image of his daughter, Jessica, to his Facebook page and it was subsequently seen by millions.

"This is the hardest photograph I have ever made," he wrote.

"A few days ago she was given what is most likely a few weeks to live. This was taken at a moment where we as parents could offer no comfort - Jessica pushing us away as she rode out her searing pain in solitude."

At 7am this morning, Andy announced her death on Facebook.

Andy wrote: "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."

A fundraising effort raised £76,000 for Jessica so that she could enjoy her final weeks after being diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma in September.

Andy and his partner, Nicki, decided to stop treatment for Jessica - who has faced stage four neuroblastoma for 13 months - because they wanted a better quality of life for her.

"This is the true face of cancer," Andy wrote in the original post.

"My baby girl's blood vessels protruding from beneath her skin, a solitary tear running down her cheek, her body stiffened and her face contorted in pain.

"With this photo, I don't mean to offend or upset anyone. Perhaps by seeing this photo people will be made aware of the darkness that is childhood cancer, and perhaps the same people will be able to do something in the future so that no child has to suffer this pain, and so that no parent has to bear witness to their own flesh and blood deteriorating daily."

You can find out more about neuroblastoma and what you can do to aid those who suffer from the illness here.

Featured image credit: Andy Whelan

Mel Ramsay

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