Ten months ago, Kimberly Vazquez got news about her almost 6-year-old daughter no parent wants to imagine hearing.
Kaylee had been suffering from continuous headaches, so her mother consulted a pediatrician, who recommended having tests done.
The results were heartbreaking.
Kaylee, now 7, was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a highly aggressive brain tumor that was found at the base of her brain. The cancer causes significant neurological problems and the prognosis is bleak. Only a few children, if any, have ever survived DIPG.
According to Stanford Medical News Center, DIPG affects 200 to 400 school-aged children in the United States each year and has a five-year survival rate of less than 1 percent; half of patients die within nine months of diagnosis. Radiation gives only a temporary reprieve from the tumor’s growth. It grows through the brain stem, where breathing and heartbeat are controlled, and is inoperable.
“Kaylee was a normal healthy and happy little girl. She loved to dance to Taylor Swift and J Lo. She was a real girly-girl,” Kimberly Vazquez told Fox News Latino.
DIPG parents refer to the illness as "the monster" because of its cruelty.
“I would tell parents not to give up hope. Never take no for an answer and to keep fighting. When they told me Kaylee would lose the ability to walk, I got her up and kept her dancing,” Kimberly told FNL.
Kaylee has been in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Miami Children’s Hospital for almost two weeks. Her mom has never left her side, playing music for her and trying to encourage her to open her eyes.
In June of 2015, Vazquez launched a GoFundMe page for her daughter to help the family pay for medical expenses.
In the GoFundMe page, Vasquez writes: “Her little hands and feet are pale and warm, I hold them and kiss them like I have done since the day she was born…I try to make sure she is as comfortable as possible. I understand she is just another patient one of the many that come and go, but to me she is my daughter and my life. The beeping of monitors in this place will probably remain in my memory for years to come. Sometimes I cry at night, it is the only way to release my pain and frustration for the inevitable. My faith tells me I have to trust that God has a plan for Kaylee but my heart can’t let go.”
Kaylee also has a little sister, Kennedy, who is 6 years old. The two are very close, her mother says.
Vasquez’s friend, Carmen Moras, told FLN that “through 33 rounds of radiation, physical therapy, and chemotherapy treatments, Kaylee never complained.” Vasquez eventually decided to stop treatment because her daughter’s chance of survival, even with treatment, is so slim.
On the Prayers for Kaylee Facebook page, Vasquez posted that she’s hoping to move Kaylee up to the hospice floor where she can be intubated and can die peacefully.
“We don't want to see her suffering but I need a little bit of time before I can do this,” she said. “This is a real nightmare. Having your child die before you is unnatural.”