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Foundation Stories > Helping Dylan Take Down Cancer

COLUMBIA, MO – While most four-year-olds are fighting over the attention from a loved one or the latest toy, Dylan Ellefson, was battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Instead of learning how to ride a bike or draw unfamiliar shapes, Dylan was learning the ins-and-outs of life in his new home, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. For 38-months, Dylan underwent chemotherapy to rid his body of the life-threating cancer cells. He fought hard and the lengthy treatments were successful. Dylan was able to enjoy life as a kid (in his actual home) with his friends and family.

Dylan grew up as both a mentally and physically tough kid. He shined on his wrestling team and has repeatedly been commended for his “happy-go-lucky attitude.” On February 22nd, 2013, things were still looking up for the now 12-year-old. Dylan’s mom, Diane, posted online, “7 years ago today, was one of the most devastating days of my life. Dylan, not quite 5 at the time, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Today, he is currently in remission and doing fantastic!”

On March 31st, 2013, Dylan was diagnosed with the same cancer.

To this date, Dylan has been fighting hard to counter the harmful disease. “It's kind of a roller coaster for him. He's so susceptible to illness that we have to be careful when his counts are low. Fevers are almost always an admission to the hospital and even a cold for him is tough for his body to deal with,” stated Diane. Dylan goes in for chemotherapy treatments weekly.

Courtney Matthews, a family friend to Diane and Veterans United employee, was devastated upon hearing the news of Dylan’s relapse. “Dylan is such a sweet kid, such a trooper and honestly has so much fight in him, it amazes me,” she stated. Courtney reached out to Veterans United Foundation, and together, they came up with a plan. 

Since Dylan’s re-diagnosis, Dylan’s mother has taken on the role of being his full-time care giver. The team wanted to give the family something that would not only sustain their lives, but also enhance them. For a while, Dylan had lightly discussed the idea of vacationing in Hawaii, knowing that it may not be achievable given his family’s financial situation and his intense treatment schedule. Still, Veterans United Foundation wanted to give Dylan something to look forward to. A family trip to Hawaii would encourage him to give his all in beating this disease for the final time.

With Courtney’s help, Veterans United Foundation was able to present Dylan with a $2,000 Alaska Air miles gift card and other travel items necessary for a vacation in Hawaii. The family is in the process of planning the trip and hopes to go next fall, when Dylan finishes his treatments and is approved for travel.

Our thoughts and hearts are with Dylan and his family always, as he continues to conquer cancer and inspire those around him. 

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