Childhood cancer is probably one of the more tragic aspects of life, and one that many families have to endure. In 2018, one brave little girl who warmed the hearts of everyone she met, was cradled in the arms of her parents. They spent her last waking moments together while watching her favorite film.
The tragedy of childhood cancer
When one thinks of Harry Potter, one doesn’t usually imagine it to be playing in the background while you say goodbye to your terminally ill loved one. In 2018, Casey and Ben Daggett sat in the living room of their home in Fairport, New York. They were snuggled in blankets and cuddling their five-year-old daughter, Zoey. The scene would have looked like a normal family movie day to anyone looking in through the window. But, that was not the case. In reality, they were saying goodbye to their daughter, who was suffering from cancer.
In 2016, Zoe had taken a tumble while playing in the park. With no visible injury or apparent pain, she jumped up and carried on having fun. One week later, she lost function in one hand, and her parents rushed her to the hospital. After some tests, the doctors found a brain tumor. To be specific, they found Zoey had a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma tumor. This kind of childhood cancer is not only aggressive, but it is extremely rare. Worst of all, there was a one percent chance Zoey would survive. “We’ve had two years to prepare for this,” said Casey. “But it’s never — it’s never enough.”
The tumor was a type of childhood cancer that generally affects young children between the ages of four and 10. It eventually takes away its victim’s ability to do basic functions like eating, swallowing, and breathing. The Daggett’s quickly set her on a course of radiation treatments, feeling desperate to save their little girl’s life. A friend of the family set up a GoFundMe account to help with the ever-rising medical bills. So far they managed to raise just over $50,000.
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Brave girl, full of life
Zoey was described by her mother, Casey, as someone who brightened everyone’s mood. She was a shining light of positivity. “She was just this tiny little person that brought light to every single room and every single occasion,” said Casey. “I remember, we were at Christmas Eve Mass once, it’s dead silent and she just starts singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in the middle of a giant, packed church. That was Zoey.”
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Childhood cancer can uproot an entire family. Zoey went from a happy-go-lucky little girl, who loved running around and playing games, to barely being able to move. Zoey’s childhood cancer ended up taking her life. In 2018, they realized the treatments were no longer working. On her final day, they gathered in their living room fr one last snuggle. In the background, they played Zoey’s favorite movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. “Midway through the movie that was it,” said her father, Ben.
Zoey died in the arms of her parents. She was surrounded by love, and the picture that was taken of that last moment shared showed just that. Casey said to the Daily Mail: “I shared it because even though it’s a painful moment, it’s a beautiful moment in our eyes.”
Even though Zoey passed away in 2018, her memory lives on through a Facebook page that Casey and Ben created to document her journey with childhood cancer. It was originally entitled Zoey’s Fight, but since her passing, her parents thought that “Zoey’s Light” was more fitting. Her parents use it to raise awareness of childhood cancer. The page description reads: “Zoey was a 5 year old spunky little girl who had a DIPG tumor. Zoey’s Light Inc is a 501(c)3 dedicated to helping children with terminal illness’s receive a bit of joy in their lives just like others did for Zoey.“
Their daughter may have died of childhood cancer, but her spirit lives on within Casey and Ben. Before she passed, they managed to get a recording of Zoey saying the phrases: “I love you,” and “not today.” the latter was a phrase from Game of Thrones. It was said as a response to the god of death. the grieving parents converted the recording into sound waves, which they each tattooed on their forearms- forever keeping her close at hand.
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- “Heartbreaking photo of parents saying goodbye to their 5yo daughter.” News. James Cox. July 9, 2018.
- “Nurse takes heart-wrenching photo of parents comforting daughter as she dies of cancer.” NBC-2. July 09, 2018.
- “Nurse captures heart-wrenching photo of parents comforting daughter as she dies of cancer.” WGRZ. Megan Finnerty. July 8, 2018.