Chrissa Hardy
September 16, 2016 6:05 pm
Julie Apicella /

In early September (and sometimes late August), parents around the world took photos of their children to commemorate their first day back-to-school. Julie Apicella of Walsoken, England took a similar photo, but her daughter was sadly absent from that photo, because she died in December 2015.

Apicella shared a back-to-school photo of her daughter Emily last fall, and posted it on Facebook next to a photo of the exact spot where she stood from this year – with the space empty. Emily passed away on December 5, 2015 after her three-year battle with a kidney cancer knows as Wilms’ Tumor.

Her daughter’s absence in this year’s photo served as a powerful and heartbreaking reminder that a) we should never take life for granted, b) there is no such thing as taking “too many” photos of your loved ones, because you never know when it might be your last. She also wanted this image to help raise awareness around children’s cancers, because they are frighteningly common.

To properly honor those we’ve lost to illnesses, we need to do our part to make people understand that these diseases exist, and a cure needs to be found. While we might not currently have the cure, continuing the conversation about it on a public forum will get us closer.