Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma is a rare and terminal tumor that forms on the pons of the brainstem and spreads like sand.
To date, three children in the Ocean Springs, Mississippi, area have been diagnosed with DIPG.
In a six-part multimedia series, the Sun Herald presents the stories of several families whose children have been diagnosed with the deadly cancer.
Over the past seven months, the Sun Herald has conducted interviews and researched the cancer that affects 300 to 400 children nationally each year.
What is conclusive is that children are dying. And there are no clear answers for their families. They say the cure has to start now.
Parents of three children stricken with DIPG struggle to understand how a disease that is so deadly and so rare has hit this small South Mississippi community.
A community rallies behind families struggling to find a cure for their children while dealing with mounting medical debts.
Sophia Myers was a happy, energetic strawberry blonde who loved to dance. In a matter of two weeks, she went from being in a dance competition to fighting for her life.
Sophia Mohler, the first known child stricken with DIPG in Ocean Springs, lived for a little more than a year after her diagnosis. After more DIPG cases have been found in kids in their town, Sophia's parents are asking why.
Jaxon Schoenberger, a 6-year-old boy full of life, was the second Ocean Springs child to die from DIPG. Jaxon had a big heart, a love for sports and even had his first kiss before his diagnosis.
DIPG is rare and affects just a few hundred children each year nationwide, but that is still too many. The cure has to start now, advocates say.
About the team
Margaret Baker joined the Sun Herald newsroom in 1994, serving as a crime and general assignment reporter. She quickly showed an aptitude for investigative journalism and has been a mainstay in that arena for the Sun Herald since.
Much of her work has revolved around the criminal justice system and public corruption.
Among her finest pieces of investigative work include the corruption within the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, which led to the downfall of then-Sheriff Joe Price. She also led the investigation into former Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd, which led to state and federal felony convictions.
Baker also led the investigation into the death of a transgender teen that led to the first federal hate crime prosecution in the U.S. of a person who had been accused of killing a transgender person.
She has won numerous state and regional awards for her reporting.
John Fitzhugh has been a photojournalist at the Sun Herald for 30 years. He has covered many significant South Mississippi stories, including the 1987 murders of Vincent and Margaret Sherry, 2005's Hurricane Katrina and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources corruption in 2013-14 and the 2016 series on corruption in the state Department of Human Services, "Fostering Secrets."
A graduate of the University of Florida, he previously worked at the Winter Haven (Fla.) News Chief.
He has won numerous state and regional awards for his photography, including the Mississippi Press Association Photo of the Year in 2005.
Amanda McCoy has been a photojournalist and videographer at the Sun Herald for 10 years. She has covered several major news stories out of South Mississippi, including the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and pictorial series on a homeless family living in Biloxi before beginning work on the DIPG series.
As a videographer, McCoy produced videos for the Katrina+10 app, photos and video to tell one woman's story about domestic violence, a high school senior's transformation into a drag queen to earn a scholarship at Harvard, and told the story of a gay military couple that had to divorce in order to adopt their son.
A graduate of the Michigan State University, she previously worked at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans.
McCoy has won numerous state and regional awards for photography and video, including the Mississippi Press Association Photo of the Year in 2012.