Heartbreaking photo shows brutal reality of childhood cancer

Just last month, Braylynn Lawhon, 5, was living a normal life.

She was excited for the holidays and looking forward to playing, laughing and having fun — all things that children her age deserve to do.

But then, she was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), the most deadly form of brain cancer.

There is no cure — which means there's no survival rate.

Just last week, the family was excited to announce that they had raised enough funds to complete one round of experimental treatment in Mexico. Not covered by insurance, each procedure costs roughly $30,000, and due to the aggressive nature of this cancer, several rounds are needed for success.

But things took a turn for the worse.

Late last week, Braylynn's condition rapidly deteriorated, and doctors discovered a bleed coming from her tumor.

She's expected to pass away at any moment.

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On Jan. 7, Braylynn's mother, Ally Parker, posted the following message on Facebook 

"Today is the day...
Today will be the worst day of my life so far, and in less than a week, I will have a day that is even more terrible.
Today is the day that everyone will have to say their final goodbyes, to 
FIVE year old. This should never happen to anyone. There is no one in this world who is evil enough to deserve to feel what I am currently feeling. My baby girl deserves to live a full, happy life, and so does every other child who has had to face DIPG.
We have to put an end to this. No more kids can get this disease and be allowed to die from it. We HAVE to find a cure, not a 
damn band aid. These kids deserve so much more than that, someday soon someone needs to find out what that cure is."

Shortly thereafter, Ally shared a photo to her page — and it's quickly making its way around the world.

Her father, Sean Peterson, was sitting next to his granddaughter's hospital bed, sobbing as he said goodbye. Sean, who suffers from ALS, can no longer speak — but his expression is worth a million words.

According to St. Baldrick's Foundation, just 4% of U.S. federal funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancer research. Ally Parker hopes this photo — and her daughter's story — can help raise awareness and hopefully, lead to more funding initiatives dedicated to finding a cure.

The Braylynn's Battalion Facebook page is posting updates on her condition.

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