This Heartbreaking First Day of School Photo Comes With a Powerful Message For All Parents

A British mom is going viral on Facebook for showing parents how perfectly precious each day you have with your child truly is. Julie Apicella posted this side-by-side first day of school photo from last year, with her 8 -year-old daughter Emily, ready to head off to her first day, and this year—with 2016’s photo devastatingly blank.


The reason? Sadly, Emily passed away from cancer in December 2015 at just 8 years old. She had been fighting a form of kidney cancer known as Wilms tumor for three years.

“Obviously someone very special missing” Apicella wrote in her Facebook post. “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.” Though the intent of Apicella’s post is to raise awareness for pediatric cancer, which will, she says, affect 1 in 285 children, I also get another message: don’t take ANY moment you have with your children for granted. They are ALL a gift!

Apicella’s full post urges everyone to change their profile pictures on Facebook to support pediatric cancer awareness. She says:


School photo time – obviously someone very special missing – my daughter Emily. 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. 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. Nearly everyone on my list has children or family members and this could be your reality in the future 1 in 285 children will get A cancer diagnoses. 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 ect for this to happen. And if you think please just give it a rest about cancer the delete friend button is near my name please press

Did you notice that Apicella said near the end there that if you’re TIRED of hearing her talk about childhood cancer you can just delete her as a Facebook friend? OH, snap! I really want to give mama bear a high five on that one.

I am so sorry for Emily’s tragic loss, and I’m grateful that her mom isn’t afraid to use her memory to make a difference for the kids who are still fighting. If you want to spread awareness for childhood cancer, please share Emily’s story as well.

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.