Family shares heartbreaking photo of dying girl to raise awareness of rare cancer

PENSACOLA, Fla. — It’s a photo that proves life can change in an instant.

A family in Florida has been documenting the their 5-year-old daughter Braylynn Lawhorn’s battle with cancer for the past few weeks.

According to her mother’s Facebook page, Lawhorn was diagnosed last month with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma tumor. It’s a form of brain cancer that affects children between the ages of 5 and 10, according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“DIPG is a monster,” Ally Parker wrote in one post. “It seems as if it targets the people who have the most to lose, who are supposed to be the happiest, but also the people who are strong enough to deal with this gracefully and courageously.”

Lawhorn is now on life support and is not expected to live much longer, Parker said.

Parker shared a picture of her daughter on a ventilator in bed while the girl’s grandfather, Sean Peterson, 49, sobbed in a chair next to the bed.

Peterson has ALS and doesn’t have much longer to live himself, Parker said.

“These two are the strongest people I have ever known,” Parker wrote of her daughter and father. “Everyone related to us would agree. We all thought they would outlive the rest of us… and we certainly never thought that my precious little Braylynn would be the first to go.

“In a few days I will have to bury this beautiful little girl,” Parker wrote. “Months, maybe even weeks, later, I will have to bury my father. Both of my heroes, gone, within the same year…”

There is a GoFundMe page set up for the family which has raised more than $61,000 as of Friday morning.

Parker said some people are accusing the family of sharing Braylynn’s cancer battle for “attention.” She said they are sharing it to raise awareness.

“People need to be aware of DIPG and how it affects children and their families,” Parker wrote in a post Thursday evening.

“It’s still considered rare, but it’s considered the most deadly form of childhood cancer in the world. Braylynn was diagnosed last month… and we’ve already almost lost her.

“Someone needs to find a successful treatment for this so our kids stop dying. It may be too late to help my princess. But it gives other kids a little more hope. Thank you.”