This past Saturday night at 7 p.m., as many as 10,000 Christmas carolers gathered outside of 8-year-old Delaney “Laney” Brown’s home to grant her wish to hear live holiday tunes. On Wednesday, Laney’s family announced that the second grader lost her battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
“My heart breaks right now,” a message on Team Laney’s Facebook page said. “Our little angel on earth earned her pink glittery angel wings in heaven. She took her last breath at home in her bed at 3:10 surrounded by all her family and friends.”
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. According to the Mayo Clinic, the disease is called “acute” because it progresses rather quickly. AML impacts the body’s white blood cells, which are called myeloid cells. Symptoms of AML may seem like those of the flu or a common cold at first, but they include fever, bone pain, lethargy, shortness of breath, and easy bruising. This type of cancer is most common among adults over the age of 65 but does sometimes show up in younger people as a result of exposure to radiation, dangerous chemical exposure, smoking, or other blood disorders.
According to The Huffington Post, Laney was diagnosed with AML in May of this year, and her condition deteriorated quickly as the holidays approached. She completed 5 rounds of radiation and even received a stem cell transplant in September.
On Dec. 17, doctors told her family that she only had days to live. In a meeting with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Laney said that she wanted to listen to Christmas carols and meet her hometown hero, Taylor Swift. She video chatted with Swift on her birthday, Dec. 20. Then, on Saturday, thousands of people who have followed Laney’s cancer battle through social media showed up to sing some Christmas classics outside her home. The sing-a-long included “Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Joy To The World.” Laney’s family posted a photo on her support page with the 8-year-old giving a thumbs up from bed. The caption read, “I can hear you now! Love you!”
"A lot of people don't even know her but through social media have been able to give her this wish. Unfortunately, this could be her last Christmas and everyone wanted to make it special for her," Deb Redcay, a caroler, told Pennsylvania news station WPVI.
In a formal statement, the Brown family said:
We are devastated by the loss of our Laney. She was our angel. We will miss her smile, her laughter, and the way she would light up any room she was in. We are eternally grateful for all of the love, kindness, prayers, and support that we have received from people across the world. You will never know how meaningful it was for all of you to rally around Laney. Laney was a wonderful, kind, and loving child, who brought so much joy to our lives. Even as her illness progressed, Laney never stopped having faith, she continued to smile in spite of her pain, and she showed more concern for all of us than for herself.
We will miss her every day of our lives and the void she’s left will never be filled. Our sincerest thanks for all that each of you have done. Your prayers and well wishes gave both Laney and us great comfort as we made our way through this very difficult time. We know Laney is in heaven and watching over all of us.