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Community supports 14-month-old fighting cancer

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Benefits being held by Brooklyn's Believers

By Amber Coulter

Community efforts begin today to support an Elizabethtown child battling cancer.

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The parents of 14-month-old Brooklyn Disselkamp took her to see a doctor the day after Thanksgiving, worried about a cold and lack of appetite.

An ultrasound showed what doctors thought was a tumor on Brooklyn’s kidney.

At Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, more tests showed a large mass in that area and doctors diagnosed her with Stage 4 neuroblastoma – a pediatric cancer that creates tumors in the body and tumor cells in bone marrow.

Treatment is expected to keep Brooklyn and her parents, Erin and Daniel, at Kosair for a long time. Erin is expecting the couple’s second child.

Selina Phillips of Steubenville, Ohio, said her niece Brooklyn typically is sweet and sassy with a stubborn streak.

“She has her tongue out all the time in photos,” she said “She’s always in a good mood.”

Brooklyn’s grandparents visit the hospital every day and family members take turns bringing meals to everyone staying and visiting.

The family passed information back and forth through text messages and a private Facebook page, while making information about Brooklyn available on their own Facebook pages. A public page called Brooklyn’s Believers was made available Wednesday.

Phillips said her large family always has been tight-knit and approached Brooklyn’s illness assuming they’d band together and help the girl and her parents face the problem.

They hadn’t thought thousands of area residents also would want to be part of Brooklyn’s fight, Phillips said.

“It’s so much bigger than us,” she said. “It’s been so wonderful and amazing.”

The first benefit for Brooklyn is from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today at Gatti’s Pizza on North Mulberry Street in Elizabethtown. Customers can make donations to Brooklyn and a percentage of buffet purchases go to the family.

The money is meant to offset costs as Brooklyn’s parents take time off work to stay with her in the hospital, Phillips said.

“We know this is going to be astronomically expensive,” she said. “No matter how good the insurance is, there are always some things it won’t cover.”

Phillips thinks her brother and sister-in-law have been overwhelmed by donations, but Brooklyn and her family still need donations and prayers — and community members have been generous with both, she said.

“We’re very surprised,” she said. “We’re kind of in awe. We’re very grateful, and we’re kind of humbled.”

A concert to benefit Brooklyn featuring the Brian Young Band is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 19 at Pritchard Community Center on South Mulberry Street.

Donations also can be made at www.giveforward.com/brooklynsbelievers.

The family is setting up a nonprofit organization called Brooklyn’s Believers. Phillips said members hope after Brooklyn’s fight, the nonprofit can help other families in similar situations.

Phillips said her family has benefited from such generosity because Brooklyn and her parents are staying in a part of Kosair Children’s Hospital improved by donations from the parents of Addison Jo Blair. In May 2011, at age 3, Addison lost a battle with the same kind of cancer Brooklyn is fighting.

“We just feel like there’s no reason why we can’t do something, too,” Phillips said.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.