Have you seen this photo?
It’s the moment a brother said goodbye to his dying little sister.
Addalyn Sooter, or Addy as family members called the 4-year-old, was battling diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a rare tumor that starts in the brain stem.
The family from Springdale, Arkansas, suburb of Rogers, knew the little girl was dying and let the siblings spend time together. So Jackson, Addy’s 6-year-old brother, rubbed her head and said goodnight.
She died hours later.
“A little boy should not have to say goodbye to his partner in crime, his playmate, his best friend, his little sister,” the children’s father, Matt Sooter, wrote on Facebook. “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be.”
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Sooter snapped a picture of the heartbreaking moment and shared it June 2 on Facebook.
In the Facebook post, Sooter said Addy’s symptoms progressed rapidly over the course of a couple days. He added that she could no longer eat and was having difficulty swallowing.
This type of glioma, a tumor that that occurs in the brain and spinal cord, affects the brain stem, which “controls breathing, heart rate and the nerves and muscles that help us see, hear, walk, talk and eat,” according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The survival rate is low for this cancer, which accounts for 10% to 20% of all childhood brain cancers, the hospital said.
The family admitted Addy to hospice care to combat the pain as the cancer spread to her spine, Sooter said in a June 1 Facebook post. He urged family members to say their final goodbyes and asked for prayers — for both his children.
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“Pray for Jackson,” Sooter wrote. “He doesn’t want to leave her side, and we won’t make him.”
He told The Washington Post that Addy’s condition worsened 20 minutes after Jackson said goodnight.
Her breathing changed — it became slower, more labored and more erratic. She opened her eyes a couple of times, but she was not coherent, Sooter said.
Addy died at 1:04 a.m. CT June 3, according to the family’s GoFundMe page, originally established to help with treatment expenses. That was just five hours after her dad posted the photo.
“She passed from this life to the next just as she had lived: stubbornly but also peacefully, and surrounded by family,” he wrote. “She wasn’t in any pain at the end.”
Despite being sad, Jackson said he was glad Addy “was going to be with Jesus,” his father told The Washington Post.
Follow Cydney Henderson on Twitter: @CydHenderson