Mom's Gut-Wrenching Photo Of Her Daughter's Final Moments Helps Raise Cancer Awareness

"Her love and light have been abundent and we will continue to pay it forward and share love and light with the world."

On July 12, 2016, Casey and Ben Daggett learned that their 3-year-old daughter, Zoey, had a rare brain tumor — the sort with a less than one percent survival rate. Known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), doctors deemed her tumor inoperable, so the family pursued radiation in an effort to prolong Zoey's life. However, after two years of treatment, Zoey passed away on the Fourth of July at age 5.

Now, in memory of Zoey's spirit and her struggle, both Casey and Ben are sharing their late daughter's story in an effort to help other families who might be facing the same diagnosis.

On Zoey's last day, Susan, one of her nurses, documented the young girl's final moments with her family. After Zoey passed, her mother took to the "Zoeys Fight" Facebook page (which has since been renamed "Zoeys Light") to share an image that's both heart-wrenching and revelatory.

"We were noticing that her fingers were turning bluer and she was getting more pale," Casey told PEOPLE. "We had the nurses come and visit in the morning, and we were just sitting with her. They knew that she was getting closer [to death]. So we sat with her and held on to her. We all just sat with her and waited."

While the couple didn't know that this would the final photo they'd have with their daughter, Casey continued the page's tradition of highlighting both the good and bad moments that defined Zoey's battle.

"Her love and light have been abundent and we will continue to pay it forward and share love and light with the world," Casey captioned the photo.


"We were both talking to her and crying," Casey told PEOPLE. "I was saying, 'It's okay. It's okay to let go. You're gonna be okay. You're gonna see people that you love. Just let go.' I was trying to talk her into letting go because I knew her body had already gone through so much. It was so sad."

"We knew this journey was coming to an end, so I felt at peace with that. But I was just extremely sad and gut-wrenched. It was devastating," she added. "I'm gonna miss her snuggles. [She] just had to be with me all the time and I miss that. I loved her laugh and the way she always wanted to talk to people and say "hello" to people. She was so outgoing and would run up to people and give them big hugs. It was who she was in spirit. She was a giant ball of happiness."

Despite their devastation, however, Casey and Ben hope that sharing this photo will reveal the toll DIPG takes and raise cancer awareness.

"I shared the photo because not a lot of people know what DIPG does to children," Casey told POPSUGAR. "And there is no real funding at all for this type of cancer. We wanted to continue Zoey's sharing of love and happiness and I think that what has happened with this photo and how it has gone viral is the first step to bringing awareness to DIPG and spreading love."

"We thought it was a beautiful photo that showed our love for Zoey and even when we knew she was going to pass, it was just a beautiful photo to us," she added. "We have always tried to help others when we can't help ourselves."

You can donate to the Daggetts' cause here

Cover image via Zoeys Light / Facebook


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