Parker Monhollon, a little girl from Kansas who spent more than a year fighting a tumor in her brain, died Monday night.
Her family announced her death on the Parker Loves Life Facebook page, where they invited the public to follow Parker’s progress from the day she was diagnosed with cancer in January 2016.
Parker would have turned 10 on July 26.
This is how her family shared the news on Monday: “7:55pm we lost our baby girl, Parker LeAnn Monhollon! Her legacy began at the same time. We will carry her memory on forever ... #parkerloveslife #day541 #sheisalegend.”
For more than a year, family, friends and strangers from far and wide followed the Facebook page for updates and news about Parker, who did combat with a brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG.
The “monster,” as the Monhollons came to call it, wrapped itself around the lower part of Parker’s brain stem. She died in a hospital in Mexico where the family had taken her to receive special chemotherapy treatments.
Last week Parker’s mother, Amanda, let followers know that her brave little daughter’s fight was nearing an end.
Parker “is no longer breathing on her own,” Amanda Monhollon wrote on July 5.
“This is DIPG as we know it, it’s not the same journey or play out has most dipg kids where the tumor takes over their mind. Instead its the opposite, it has left holes in her brain where they can not connect. We had an MRI yesterday and an EEG. Low brain activity was confirmed. Regardless of the MRI results, my child is not living and that is the truth.”
Then, over the weekend, Monhollon posted a video saying Parker’s brain activity was completely gone, but because Mexico does not honor DNRs – do not resuscitate – requests, the family was waiting for her heart to stop on its own.
“We’re just going to hold on and wait until she’s ready,” Amanda Monhollon said. “And then we’ve decided to donate her tumor so, after she passes, they will take her tumor and we’ll be able to bring her home.
“This will probably be my last update until all those things take place and, yeah, that’s it ... thank you everyone for following her journey. She’s such an amazing little girl.”
News of Parker’s death Monday spread quickly on social media. Though followers knew her health was failing, many had prayed and hoped for a miracle for the little girl who loved to dance.
Thousands of messages of condolence and prayers, and public grief, flooded the Facebook page.
“Parker Loves Life” became a rallying cry – and a hashtag – for her followers on social media. Total strangers, including former Kansas City Royals pitcher Chris Young, gravitated toward her story in ways that humbled the family from Silver Lake, Kan.
Parker told the world she had cancer in a Jan. 16, 2016, YouTube video, shot in her purple bedroom at home.
“I just got done with MRI. They said I have a brain tumor,” the third-grader said in a singsong voice. “And it’s something that’s on your brain. And it’s called tumors. And they get bigger and bigger. So you have to take these pills.”
Parker took dance lessons at an Olathe studio, and the close-knit dance community rallied behind her during her fight, hosting fundraisers and posting tribute videos.
Young sent her a video message, too.
Along the way, Parker’s story taught people about DIPG, a rare, pediatric brain tumor that affects about 300 children, typically between the ages of 5 and 9, every year, according to Boston’s Children Hospital. It is very difficult to treat. The tumors are aggressive, and there is no cure yet.
“Parker displayed uncommon courage and strength fighting this disease, as did her parents and siblings,” Parker’s grandfather, Rusty Monhollon, said in a statement on Monday.
“I myself am heartbroken, by Parker’s passing, of course, but also by seeing my son (Danny) and his family endure such sorrow and anguish.
“Their ordeal has been eased some through the generosity and goodness of family, friends, and complete strangers, kindness that can never be fully repaid and for which I’m so very grateful.”