Family Shares Photo Of Man Grieving At Granddaughter's Bedside To Show Devastating Effects Of Cancer

"The lack of research, treatment and funding for childhood cancer is absolutely appalling."

It's typical to take pictures of happy moments — birthdays, weddings, graduations etc. — but we seldom see photographic evidence of instances of sadness or despair. 

However, in an effort to illustrate the devastating effects of cancer, the Lawhon family of Gulf Breeze, Florida shared a photo of 5-year-old Braylynn Lawhon lying motionless in a hospital bed as her grandfather, Sean Peterson, openly grieved beside her. People magazine reports Lawhon was diagnosed with a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) tumor, a deadly form of brain cancer, in December, and is now in hospice care.

Since Lawhon may pass away at any moment, friends and relatives have gathered to say goodbye to the once energetic little girl. When Peterson — who is battling ALS and bone marrow cancer — laid eyes on his granddaughter, he immediately began crying.

"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."

"He does not deserve this," Peterson-Hickman added. "He, like me, we're supposed to watch our grandkids grow up and make us great-grandparents."

Though the heartbreaking photograph of Peterson weeping beside Lawhon is devastating to look at, Lawhon's mother, Ally Parker, shared it on her Facebook page just days ago to show the crushing impact of cancer on not just the patient, but an entire family.

"People need to be aware of DIPG and how it affects children and their families," she wrote on Facebook on January 11. "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."

A Facebook post on a page dedicated to Lawhon's cancer fight added, "The lack of research, treatment and funding for childhood cancer is absolutely appalling. We will not go away. We need Braylynn's Battalion of warriors to continue this fight so that someday this will stop happening."

According to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, only 4 percent of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer, which is in part why the Lawhon family shared that gut-wrenching picture that has struck a chord with millions.

Despite that discouraging figure, there are people and foundations dedicated to finding cures for all types of cancers, including those that impact children like Braylynn. The Biden Cancer Initiative, for example, is an organization co-founded by former Vice President Joe Biden that aims to develop and drive implementation of solutions to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research, and care, and to reduce disparities in cancer outcomes.

In a meeting back in November with two cancer survivors and the mother of child battling cancer, Biden told the trio, "You said I don't know you, but I know you. You're like so many people I've met, going through the hell you had to go through, and you had the courage, and the determination, and hope."

Cover image via  Pammy Studio I Shutterstock

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