Just a couple of months ago, five-year-old Braylynn Lawhon appeared to be a happy, healthy little girl. Then in December, her family received absolutely heartbreaking news.
Braylynn was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) tumor, a deadly form of brain cancer and one of the most devastating pediatric cancers. Not long after, she was placed in hospice care at a hospital in Pensacola, Florida. She soon became unresponsive. Her grandfather, 49-year-old Sean Peterson, visited her there, where he was captured in a raw, emotional photo while sitting next to his granddaughter in her hospital bed.
Peterson, who suffers from bone marrow cancer and ALS, can no longer speak or move his hands. He also has a feeding tube. “They wheeled him in to see Braylynn,” Beth Peterson-Hickman, Braylynn’s grandmother and Peterson’s ex-wife, told People. “When he saw her, he was crying and it was heart-wrenching. I broke down and I had to turn around.”
When the photo was taken, Braylynn was expected to pass away at any time. She died on January 15, surrounded by her loved ones.
Braylynn’s family plans to have a princess-themed funeral for their little girl.
“She was a princess with the strength of a warrior and she will NEVER be forgotten,” her family wrote. “We need this cruel disease called DIPG to stop taking our children away from us!”
It’s unimaginable how difficult and gut-wrenching this loss has been for everyone who knew Braylynn. Rest in peace, sweet girl.