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News & Insight

Great Grandma Battling Cancer Becomes Instagram Sensation

By Hanssie on March 18th 2014

Following a terminal cancer diagnosis early this year, Betty Simpson’s great grandson, Zach Belden, created an Instagram account for her to give her something to look forward to and for his friends to get to know the great grandma that has helped raise the 18 year old.

Diagnosed with a late stage lung cancer, Grandma Betty was too frail to undergo chemotherapy. Zach “wanted to give her something that would make her happy and fight until there was no fight left. That was really important for him,” Zach’s mother, Hope Belden told


Since then, Grandma Betty (grandmabetty33 is her Instagram handle) has amassed over 158k followers, including producer Pharrell Williams. One of her most popular posts, posted a few weeks ago, is of Grandma Betty dancing to “Happy,” Pharrell’s latest hit, when she hit 2,500 followers.

Amidst photographs of Grandma Betty acting silly, making duck faces and #SelfieSundays, other photos show a the painful, more difficult days. “Grandma tries to stay very positive about what’s going on and what she feels, because she feels bad most days. She has more bad days than good days lately,” Belden said. But the account keeps her spirits up, and the outpouring of love, prayers and support from around the world is an encouragement to Zach and his family.

“She’s always given the shirt off her back or the shoes off her feet,” Belden told “For her to get that back from people — love, prayers, anything, that’s amazing. I can’t be more thankful.”

Follow Grandma Betty’s Instagram here.


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kishore Sawh

    This is really lovely. Instagram does have its merits

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