The Ossege Family at The Dragonfly Foundation Summer Bash in 2022.
The Ossege Family at The Dragonfly Foundation Summer Bash in 2022.Photography provided by The Dragonfly Foundation

Dragonfly Foundation: Confronting Childhood Cancer

Foundation Helps Family Discover Joy Amidst the Chaos

It’s the kind of news every parent dreads.

“When my four-year-old son Elijah was diagnosed with stage 3 Wilms tumor, my first thought was fear that he was going to die,” recalls Brittany Ossege. Wilms tumor is a rare type of kidney cancer that primarily affects children under the age of five. “Sometimes, still to this day, I have those thoughts, like, ‘Is it going to come back?’”

Soon after Elijah’s cancer diagnosis, however, the family discovered The Dragonfly Foundation, which offers strength and courage — even joy — to families walking their children through pediatric cancer treatment. With The Dragonfly Foundation’s help, Brittany garnered the strength to be a more present parent by being honest and vulnerable with other parents who were facing the same demon.

“You can’t talk about being afraid of your child dying with your everyday friends,” she shares. “It’s not something they can understand, even when they want to.”

Elijah during treatment.
Elijah during treatment.

In addition, when traversing that valley of pain and uncertainty, it’s tough to find nuggets of bliss. When Elijah’s family was surrounded by other Dragonfly families, however, they gained a different perspective.

“We found our joy by seeing the children play and feel included,” she says. “It’s also nice having events to look forward to. That got us through those hard days.”

While Elijah was undergoing treatment, Brittany vividly recalls, she received a surprise phone call from a Dragonfly employee who invited her and her husband to enjoy dinner at a fancy restaurant, compliments of The Dragonfly Foundation.

“That was one of our only date nights during Elijah’s treatment, so it was wonderful,” says Brittany.

In addition to providing emotional support, The Dragonfly Foundation also offers practical help, providing its signature blue ‘care bags’ containing various essentials that make a hospital stay more bearable. These items include toiletries, a water bottle, tissues, a night light, earplugs and a notebook to keep track of appointments and medication schedules.

“It’s those little necessities to help families get by those first couple of weeks in the hospital,” says Caroline DeGroft, Dragonfly’s Director of Communications and Marketing. “It’s also our introduction to the families as we try to make life a little easier for them.”

Elijah displaying the Childhood Cancer Awareness scarf he helped FC Cincinnati to design.
Elijah displaying the Childhood Cancer Awareness scarf he helped FC Cincinnati to design.

Making the Good Memories Last

We all know that as time passes, some memories fade while others remain etched in our hearts and minds. As for Elijah, he has mentioned to his mom that he doesn’t remember undergoing certain medical procedures. What he does recall, however, is attending a Reds game and meeting sportscaster Marty Brenneman.

“Elijah said, ‘Yeah, that was the guy who sat with us at Reds Fest and played board games with us!’” recalls Brittany. “Ten years from now, Elijah is not going to look back and remember the bad things that happened with cancer. He will remember that Dragonfly was a community of people who wanted the best for him, who wanted to provide him with fun things to do!”

Since 2010, The Dragonfly Foundation has served nearly 7,300 young cancer and bone marrow transplant patients, siblings, parents and caregivers. Thousands of others have benefited from the quality-of-life enhancements Dragonfly provides to partner hospitals. To learn more, visit dragonfly.org.

The Dragonfly Foundation Radiothon

MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Get ready for the third annual Dragonfly Radiothon, airing on Warm 98.5 on Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. This 11-hour event is about more than raising funds for Dragonfly cancer patients and their families. It’s also about sharing inspir- ing stories of strength, courage and joy. Listeners are invited to call in and pledge donations. “It’s a fun event and a great chance for the public to learn more about The Dragonfly Foundation,” says Caroline DeGroft, Director of Communications and Marketing.

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