I was a pediatric leukemia nurse care manager for six years before becoming the mom of a dragonfly myself. No amount of knowledge or experience can prepare you for the words, “your child has cancer”. Our daughter, Isla, was diagnosed with high risk Acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 20 months old. My coworkers and friends took on a new role in my life, as Isla’s medical team and caregivers. As a nurse, I always knew what an amazing group the Dragonfly Foundation was and the joy they brought to patients and families. But until you experience it firsthand in the trenches of chemo with your own child, you have no idea how much their acts of generosity, both big and small, are really needed for families living through treatment day in and day out.
The Dragonfly Foundation is such an important part of the experience of local children and families undergoing cancer treatment. The moment that “blue bag” is brought in by the social worker, you know it’s from a group of people who’ve been in your shoes. It’s the little things that can make all the difference. After a weekend of tears at the hospital, those eye drops were the tiniest thing, I didn’t know I needed, taking some of the sting away and making me feel halfway human again. A mini flashlight to help us search for belongings in the small hospital room at night without waking up a sleeping child with a bright overhead light. These thoughtful items are much appreciated and a reminder that you aren’t alone. Others have been here too.
The Dragonfly Foundation brings joy individually, but also together with other families going through the same experience. We went to the holiday party at Great American Ballpark this past winter and had a fantastic time. Like most immunocompromised Dragonflies, our 2-year-old daughter doesn’t get out much, so this was a BIG night for her. She had so much fun and couldn’t stop dancing and saying hi to everyone. She asked daily for weeks if we could go to the party again. It was so nice to get her out of the house, to be around people who we all could relate to, and to not have to worry about being in a crowded public place or explaining to others what her restrictions were and why we had to follow them because of her compromised immune system.
Isla’s favorite movie is the Lion King. She has become OBSESSED with it. The Dragonfly Foundation gave us the opportunity to take her to the Aronoff Theater to see the movie brought to life on the Broadway stage. She was absolutely giddy from start to finish. We had never seen her so happy. It was the first time in a year we had taken her out to a public place. It was exactly the break from the reality of cancer treatment we all needed as a family. We will forever be grateful for those memories.
– Rachel Wilp