The Dragonfly Foundation: A Little Blue Bag of Hope

The Dragonfly Foundation: A Little Blue Bag of Hope

“You have lymphoma.”

Taylor Heatherly was only 14 when she heard those words. As a freshman in high school, she was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

She’d woken up with a lump on the side of her neck. Up until then, she’d been a typical teenager, cheerleading and dancing, enjoying her life with her friends. 

Overnight, her life changed. 

“One of the main emotions I had was confusion,” Heatherly says. “‘Why is this happening? What are we going to do?’ There was so much fear wrapped up in it. I didn’t want to be going through this. I had just started my walk with my faith, and I was struggling with it. I knew that God had me, but I was scared a little.”

Heatherly would spend the next month at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, undergoing intense treatment to save her life. 

But sitting on her new bed in the hospital was a blue bag with the words “The Dragonfly Foundation” on it.

“It was my first introduction to Dragonfly,” Heatherly says. “We had no clue what we would need. It was things like Chapstick, toilet paper, snacks. It even had things for my mom’s benefit, like Advil. I’m so thankful for that.”

The Dragonfly Foundation became a lifeline for Heatherly and her family. 

Dragonfly exists to help children like Heatherly find joy and community during a cancer diagnosis. Since 2010, they have served over 6,500 patients and their families. With their partners in the community, they help kids feel normal when nothing around them is typical.

It’s not just the physical that makes fighting cancer so challenging. While there are incredible doctors and hospitals in Cincinnati, cancer affects every part of a patient’s and their family’s well-being. There are emotional challenges, financial burdens, and the isolation that can come with trying to juggle everything. 

Thanks to the Dragonfly Foundation, families don’t have to do it alone. Their community exists to provide support and resources, a second family who knows exactly what patients and their families are going through.

Heatherly had the same concern that any teenager might when facing chemotherapy — her hair. “I’m 14, I’m in high school, and people are nervous when you’re the bald girl walking through the hall. But Dragonfly is this great community that gets it.”

Heatherly ended up going through 2½ years of treatment, including six months of intense chemotherapy, being in and out of the hospital, including spending Christmas in her hospital room. Then she had a year and a half of chemo once a day, with once-a-month spinal taps. 

Through it all, Dragonfly was there to support Heatherly and her family. She got tickets to Reds games and musicals at the Aronoff Center. They sent text messages to encourage and support her. Sometimes there was a random gift card in the mail. 

“Dragonfly never forgot me,” Heatherly says. “I was known and loved by them.”

Dragonfly also helped connect Heatherly to other children who were going through similar struggles. Through a Facebook support group run by Dragonfly, she connected with other patients. They saw each other at the hospital and Dragonfly events, and they shared the ups and downs of their journeys. Heatherly says some of her fellow Dragonflies have become lifelong friends. Now Heatherly is a healthy and thriving cancer survivor. She graduated from Little Miami High School, moved to Tampa to attend the University of South Florida, and now lives in Nashville. She currently works as a specialist for FUGE Camps, a Christian summer camp for students. 

But once a Dragonfly, always a Dragonfly. Heatherly says the foundation still walks alongside her in her survivorship.

Recently, she was featured at The Dragonfly Foundation’s Grand Gala where she shared her story. “Dragonfly has been so awesome,” Heatherly says. “There’s just so much light there.

“Cancer is awful; chemo is awful. But I’m thankful for it because it’s my story. It allows me to speak into something that people are scared to speak into.”

Do you want to support The Dragonfly Foundation in its mission to help kids with cancer? Find them on the web at

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