Instagram deletes mother’s account chronicling toddler’s battle with cancer

Instagram deletes mother’s account chronicling toddler’s battle with cancer
Hazel Hammersley, age 4

It calls to mind a cartoon from years back that shows an elderly woman kneeling in prayer in a magnificent, centuries-old cathedral. A security guard stands next to her, urging, “Stand up, madam. You are bothering the tourists.”

In this real-life analog, the part of the supplicant is played by a mother whose sole crime against humanity was soliciting prayers for her sick child. According to Los Angeles CBS affiliate CBSLA, Lauren Hammersley took to the social media site Instagram in the fall of 2013 to chronicle her 2-year-old daughter Hazel’s bout with neuroblastoma, a rare cancer. The prognosis was grim back then, and posting photos and journal entries must have cathartic for the young mother, who recently told CBSLA:

I didn’t post it on Facebook or the blog at all; it was only on Instagram that I posted a picture, and I said ‘Hey, this is what’s happening, she’s in the ICU, please pray.’

Happily, the doctors’ worst fears never materialized, and today, Hazel, at 4, is the picture of health. Not so her mother’s heart-wrenching and ultimately triumphal online story:

In April, however, Lauren noticed she was no longer receiving notifications for the account and was unable to sign in. Instagram had deleted the account.

Instagram’s terms of service state that a disabled account is permanent and that photos and comments are deleted forever.

Lauren says she had hoped to share those photos and comments with Hazel one day.

“The fact that she’s here and she’s healthy and she’s been through this horrific experience, I wanted her to be able to look back on that when she understood, to not only see the power that she had going through it, but the power of support that she had,” Lauren said.

Instagram requires users to be over the age of 13, though Lauren says she has always been clear that she was posting photos of Hazel, not as her.

Fortunately, Hammersley maintained a simultaneous blog titled Our Little Hazelnut that also detailed her daughter’s long and hard-fought ordeal. But for the thousands of devoted followers of her Instagram account who aren’t aware of the blog, the story ends abruptly.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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