In one photo, Andrew Brown has captured the effects of childhood cancer as well as the strength of his daughter.
On June 23, doctors at a hospital in Australia diagnosed Brown’s daughter Hayley with a type of cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Brown told The Huffington Post that doctors found a soft tissue tumor at the back of Hayley’s nose that was filling her nasal passage. The tumor was affecting one of her eyes as well as her brain, so Hayley began different forms of chemotherapy just two days after her diagnosis.
“[The tumor] was also starting to put pressure on the bottom of her brain so they wanted to attack it fast and strong,” Brown said. “To quote the head of the oncology team, ‘Coming in with all guns blazing.’”
Because of the chemo, Hayley, who turned 7 in July while she was in the hospital, started losing her hair. The treatment affected all of her eyelashes, too ― except one. Brown took a photo of his daughter while she was sleeping after noticing that one eyelash still clung to Hayley’s eyelid. On Oct. 30, he shared the photo on Facebook.
Brown said the photo of Hayley’s remaining eyelash was a reminder of everything she has gone through.
“It was a bit of a heartbreaking moment when we realized they were all going, but when we noticed that one stayed it was just a reminder,” he said.
The moving photo has now made the rounds online, and Brown has received more support than he ever expected. He has received comments from people around the world and received more than 100 friend requests because of the post.
“I was expecting the usual dozen people to comment and the usual few dozen to click ‘Like,’ ‘Heart’ or ‘Sad Face’ [on Facebook],” he said. “I seriously did not expect anything past that.”
When asked what Hayley thought of the photo and the reaction it sparked, Brown told HuffPost that unfortunately, her treatment has kept her from giving it much thought.
“I’ve tried telling her about it, but she is having a rough week,” he said.
It’s clear that Hayley is a fighter, and so is her remaining eyelash, which Brown says is still hanging on.
“I checked again when I cuddled her goodnight when tucking her in [earlier],” he said.
To keep up with Hayley’s journey, head to Brown’s blog.