The photograph of their tender brotherly love captured our hearts. Now the parents of William and Thomas Blanksby have shared devastating news - their youngest son has passed away at just six months of age.
Thomas was born with cancer over his kidneys and his parents were told early on he wouldn't live to see his first birthday.
As the cancer spread through his tiny body, big brother William, 3, was always there to soothe him. This image of the two boys together on the couch went viral two months ago, capturing the hearts of millions.
Thomas's parents Sheryl and Jon Blanksby told how Thomas passed away on Monday evening – exactly two years after they lost their second child through miscarriage.
After our spa session face 😂 Not sure if he wants to stay longer or this is him saying I didn't enjoy that mum! Either way we got our burps today. He didn't fall asleep this time, instead he gazed at the trees, leaves, flowers and contently stared at them. Ps. I am forever grateful that you are taking the time to check Thomas and how he's doing. I appreciate your comments and suggestions and I know they come from a place of love and good intentions. You're just as upset as I am with how Thomas is progressing in his disease. I ask kindly that you respect each other and to try to avoid heavy discussions that will cause fights. Thomas brings people together because of love and respect and I hope we continue it that way for as long as we can. Your prayers and comments have given our family comfort that we are not alone in loving our little Thomas, and we thank you for that. 💙#documentinglittlemoments #makingmemories #mybabylove #lovealwayswin #littlewarriorthomas #grumpyhandsome
"They are now together with our loved ones who are looking down upon us," Sheryl posted on Facebook. "He's no longer in pain is our only consolation.
"He was surrounded by family and right next to his mummy and daddy when he passed away. He fought the good fight especially when he was only expected to live for only short amount of weeks after his diagnosis."
Sheryl and Jon, from Perth, tried to give their boys a normal life despite Thomas's diagnosis of a malignant rhabdoid tumour at the age of 6 weeks, fitting in as much fun as they could.
Two months ago, at only four months of age, Thomas was thrown a birthday party, with his parents knowing this was his only chance to experience the celebration.
Three weeks ago, Sheryl shared on her blog that she sensed Thomas didn't have much longer left to live.
"I am starting to feel like I am racing against time," she wrote. "My brain is thinking a million things at once. I look at my Thomas and my thoughts are of panic! That cute face, that beautiful chin, that big brown eyes, that beautiful voice, that baby smell. I need more time!
"There's a shift in my Thomas. Something different, sullen, sad. I could be over thinking/analysing and overly exhausted. Hospital visits are now more serious. Those type of discussions I tried to avoid and not think about are now on the table. Time of emergency. Last breath. Final Day. Funeral."
Thinking about a child's last days, and their funeral, is something no parent should have to cope with, and Sheryl shared her struggle.
"My heart is heavy. My chest is tight. My tears abound. He deserves everything beautiful in life. Are we giving it? Is it enough? I am hopeful but I also see the painful truty. What do they say about a mother's instinct? Reminder to self: one day at a time."
Dear #littlewarriorthomas Your #superkuyawilliam was looking for you everywhere in the house today. He thought we were hiding you to surprise him. I told him you're in heaven now and he got worried that you will miss him so much. He was also worried that you will get wet from the rain. I told him to look up the sky and say hi to you and to watch out for signs when you say hello back. We miss you so much darling boy. Love you always your mummy, daddy and Kuya. #documentinglittlemoments #wemissyou
The bond Thomas shared with William was an unbreakable one, with William often talking about how he didn't want Thomas to leave the family. Time may help to heal the hurt the family is feeling right now, but that bond will remain.
Sheryl wrote to Thomas with an image of her, Jon and William on Instagram.
"Dear #littlewarriorthomas, your #superkuyawilliam was looking for you everywhere in the house today. He thought we were hiding you to surprise him. I told him you're in heaven now and he got worried that you will miss him so much. He was also worried that you will get wet from the rain. I told him to look up to the sky and say hi to you and to watch out for signs when you say hello back. We miss you so much darling boy."