Ultimately, every parent has the same dream: to make sure that their children have the fullest, happiest lives possible.
While parents don’t give up their other goals and aspirations when they have kids, we all know that parents will almost always put their own needs on the back burner to help their child achieve a dream, like the sweet dad who happily spends his free time helping his daughter film a web show.
After all, there’s no force that can match a parent’s love for their child; mama and papa bears worldwide will go to the ends of the Earth to help their little one.
But in some cases, dedicated and loving parenting isn’t enough to prevent the inevitable. Tragically, that proved true for Andy and Sammi Barnard, a young couple from the U.K. facing a heartbreaking diagnosis.
Their daughter Poppy-Mai, the youngest of their three children at just 16 months, is terminally ill with a rare and fast-moving form of cancer.
Despite the devastating prognosis, Andy and Sammi are doing everything they can to give their baby girl truly wonderful final days. They have set up a GoFundMe for Poppy-Mai’s medical expenses and for her final adventures.
For Poppy-Mai, that means time with family and friends, and even a beautiful fairy tale wedding, with her doting dad as the groom.
Andy and Sammi Barnard were thrilled when they learned, less than two years ago, that the newest addition to their family would be a girl.
Sammi gave birth in November of 2014, and little Poppy-Mai joined her two older brothers.
For her loving parents, having a first daughter was exciting; they were already looking forward to planning her wedding one day in the future.
But at just 15 months, the normally cheerful baby suddenly became fussy, with constipation and an upset stomach.
She wasn’t eating, and Sammi noticed that she seemed off balance. Doctors weren’t concerned at first, sending them home with a laxative.
But when Poppy-Mai only got sicker, Sammi rushed her to the hospital.
Poppy-Mai’s father Andy, a member of Britain’s Royal Air Force, was away on an assignment when his little one went into the hospital.
He rushed back just a few days later, when Poppy-Mai received her first diagnosis: doctors suspected that the little girl, not yet 2, had Wilms’ tumor, a form of liver cancer.
After tests and biopsies, the truth proved even more frightening than the earlier diagnosis.
Doctors gave the Barnards the very difficult news that their only daughter was suffering from an extremely rare and aggressive cancer called a malignant rhabdoid tumor.
It had spread from her kidneys to her lungs in just a matter of days.
The Barnards pursued the most active medical treatment they could, doing everything possible to help their daughter.
But after four arduous weeks of chemo treatments, doctors found an inoperable tumor in Poppy-Mai’s brain.
Her parents decided to bring her home, and give her a final few days free of pain, surrounded by her loved ones.
They have set up a fund-raising page to help cover Poppy-Mai’s final days, and to help start a fund for supporting other children with rare and aggressive cancers.
But for the moment, they’re focused primarily on giving Poppy the time of her life. They even decided to give their little one a fairy tale wedding.
As Andy told Metro,”From the moment we found out Poppy-Mai was a girl, I’ve said she’d have the wedding of her dreams one day. I never ever thought it would be like this.”
Sammi added to the Daily Mail, “I couldn’t stop crying. Being our only daughter, we’d often talked about one day watching her get married.”
It’s tragic and challenging for the parents and for Poppy-Mai’s two big brothers, but they want to give their little one an unforgettable day.
So for Poppy’s big day, they dressed her in a borrowed Christening gown that belonged to her cousin, and set up a beautiful ceremony with friends and family in attendance.
Her father Andy stood in as the “groom” for his little girl’s wedding, while Sammi and big brothers Rylee and Jenson-Jay walked her down the aisle.
Little Poppy-Mai capped off her celebration by quietly falling asleep on her dad’s chest, tuckered out from the excitement.
Now, her parents and brothers are biding their time and cherishing every remaining moment with Poppy-Mai. For as long as they have her, they want to give her every positive experience that they can.
If you were as touched by this as we were, make sure to pass the tissues and SHARE to promote Poppy-Mai’s story and the Barnards’ beautiful efforts in support of their little one and other children suffering from rare cancers.