Child in heartbreaking photo dies of aggressive brain cancer

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A 5-year-old girl who was pictured with her grandfather in a heartbreaking photo has died of brain cancer.

Braylynn Lawhon died Monday, according to her grandmother, Beth Peterson-Hickman

“It’s a true hell on earth. I feel helpless,” the grandmother told PEOPLE. “I’m trying to stay strong for my family.”

In December, Braylynn was diagnosed with a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma tumor. A short time later, she was placed in hospice care in Pensacola, Florida.

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Just last month, Braylynn Lawhon was a seemingly healthy little girl about to celebrate her 5th birthday. But doctors now say she could pass away at any moment.

In December, the Gulf Breeze, Florida, girl was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a deadly form of brain cancer, Yahoo reports. Braylynn is now in hospice care. 

Her grandfather, 49-year-old Sean Peterson, who suffers from bone marrow cancer and ALS, visited his ailing granddaughter and was immediately overcome with grief.

A photo posted by Braylynn's mother shows the girl in a hospital bed unresponsive as Peterson sat crying in a chair next to her bed. 

“They wheeled him in to see Braylynn. He can no longer speak, he can’t move his hands and he has a feeding tube,” 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.”

Braylynn, 5

The grieving grandmother says Braylynn was in high spirits in the days after her diagnosis, but within the last month, her health has declined rapidly.


The family has started a GoFundMe page to help with medical and funeral expenses for little Braylynn and Parker shares updates on her daughter’s health on the Braylynn’s Battalion Facebook page.

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