A family's fight against cancer bringing awareness to a rare disease and helping others
ELKHART, Ind. -- One Elkhart family is hoping to keep their daughter's memory alive with the community’s help.
“She was a fighter,” said Tasha Wagner, a family-friend.
“Reegan..She was hilarious, I mean she loved dinosaurs. She’s had it rough the past couple of years, she got diagnosed with high-functioning autism in 2018 which explained a lot of stuff about her as far as some of her behavioral issues we noticed at a very young age,” said Tiffany DeGeeter, who is Reegan’s mom.
Reegan DeGeeter was 13 years old when she was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
Reegan started to feel really tired, winded and began having mobility issues.
At that moment, Reegan’s mom knew she had to get Reegan help.
But, it took more than just one hospital visit to find the root of all her problems.
Standing up to one battle after another, Reegan and her family kept roaring for answers when medical experts would say everything came back normal.
Shortly after in 2019, they found out Reegan was diagnosed with a rare liver disease hepatopulmonary syndrome in 2019 with the only treatment being a liver transplant.
In May 2020, Reegan received a liver transplant but lost her battle to post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder after the organ transplant this past month in July.
Tiffany hopes to bring awareness to other families going through the same thing.
“Keep fighting, you know your kid better than anybody, so just don’t give up, even though you have experts saying nothing is wrong, if you feel something is not right, do your due diligence, make sure you get the answers that you need to help your child,” said Tiffany.
“If your child needs an organ donation, don’t be scared. There are risks but the risk doesn’t outweigh the benefit. We got a whole another year with our daughter that we possibly wouldn’t have gotten,” said Tiffany.
Reegan’s journey has left a footprint to future roaring patients who are fighting a rare disease just like she did.
A family friend began selling #ReeganStrong bracelets for $3 at G. Ranger Wayne's Merchandise in Elkhart during Reegan’s battle to help the family with financial support.
With that continued support today, they are pouring all those donations into a fund to create a foundation in honor of Reegan to help others in need.
Reegan’s family are making it their mission to help others going through a difficult time by keeping Reegan’s Facebook journey page active as a support group to inspire others.
“It’s really nice to make those connections because you don’t feel so alone, unfortunately, it’s rare so there’s not a lot of support groups out there for parents whose kids suffer from it. Her journey page that I have on Facebook will stay active,” said Tiffany.
The family is overwhelmed and thankful for all the community support they have received.
If you would like to buy a bracelet to support the foundation, you can head on over to 1712 S. Nappanee St in Elkhart.
Click the following to be directed to Reegan’s Journey Page: Facebook Support Group