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Why A Mom Shared The Heartbreaking Photo Of Her 5-Year-Old Daughter's Last Moments Alive

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How Did Zoey Daggett Die? Why Mom Shares Photo Of Daughter's Last Moments Alive Before Dying Of Rare Brain Dumor
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The 5-year-old girl had a rare brain tumor.

For most Americans, this past Fourth of July holiday was a day of celebration and fireworks with friends and families. But for the Daggett family from Fairport, New York, the holiday was overshadowed by a tragic reality: the loss of their 5-year-old daughter to cancer. 

After a two year battle, Zoey succumbed to her disease. A nurse captured a heartbreaking photo of Casey and Benjamin Daggett with their daughter in her final moments.

And Casey decided she wanted to share it. 

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"I shared it because even though it’s a painful moment, it’s a beautiful moment in our eyes," Casey told The Daily Mail. "It was a kind of peaceful moment for Ben and me. This is our reality and we wanted to show people every side of it." 

She said the family's last time together was spent playing some of Zoey's favorite films and singing songs together.


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In 2016 while at a park, Zoey had fallen and began limping. It was after the fall that the young girl was diagnosed with a brain tumor known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.

According to the Boston Children's Hospital, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas — or DIPGs — are "highly aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumors found at the base of the brain." These tumors are located in a part of the brain that controls vital bodily functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. 

An average of 300 children ranging from ages 5 to 9 are diagnosed with this rare tumor each year. 

Although DIPGs can be treated using radiation and chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumor is not an option due to its location in the brain. 

Because this type of tumor is inoperable, the family was left to seek treatment for Zoey in other ways. They learned about a trial for an innovative form of treatment known as immunotherapy.


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However, the trial was happening in Cologne, Germany. Once admitted into the program, the family temporarily relocated to Germany for the treatment.

Although the immunotherapy had shown progress and shrunk cancer cells in her brain, Zoey's symptoms became worse the following year. Eventually, the tumor began to spread to other areas of her brain, causing her untimely death. 

Prior to sharing her final photo, Casey had posted happier moments of her daughter's journey through cancer, including this sweet photo of Zoey and Casey with Disney characters.

Before to her diagnosis with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, Zoey was a very active little girl.

Casey described her daughter to the Democrat & Chronicle as a "tornado, a runner and a snuggler who loved everyone. She liked superheroes, unicorns, princesses and going to breweries with her parents. She wanted to go everywhere with them." 

Casey added that Zoey was a young girl that "brought light to every single room and every single occasion."

According to the American Cancer Society, "About 10, 270 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Childhood cancer rates have been rising slightly for the past few decades."

Although the Daggett's story is heartbreaking, there are also many other families across the country and the world that are affected by childhood cancer. By sharing their journey though, the Daggett's may be able to help provide solace for other families going through the same struggle.


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Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and Michigan native. When she's not writing, Jill enjoys Zumba class, travel, and referencing classic Seinfeld episodes.

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