Lifestyle

5-year-old Federal Way girl endures brain cancer treatment

Earlier this year, 5-year-old Kaylie Bergen came down with a cold and felt a little off-balance.

A couple of weeks later, Christy Bergen noticed her daughter was watching TV with one eye closed. On Feb. 4, Kaylie was diagnosed with diffuse pontine glioma — a malignant tumor in the brainstem. It's a fast-growing cancer, and there is no cure. The two-year survival rate is less than 20 percent.

"We are hoping and praying Kaylie will be one of those handful of kids," Christy Bergen said. "She's going to be one of those miracles. She's going to make it."

Kaylie undergoes radiation treatment five days a week at the University of Washington in Seattle. Soon after treatment began three weeks ago, the Federal Way family saw improvements: Kaylie could draw again and walk without falling.

"We know the tumor is shrinking," Christy said, adding that Kaylie will receive another MRI scan during her next break from radiation and chemotherapy. "Her good days are my good days."

Christy and Russ Bergen are touched by the outreach on their daughter's behalf. Amy Elias, kindergarten teacher at Lakeland Elementary School, has been homeschooling Kaylie. Aside from donating meals to the Bergens, Lakeland Elementary also collects coloring books and other gifts that Kaylie picks out as a morale boost before each day's treatment.

Federal Way resident TaShawna Nash set up an account at Sterling Savings Bank to benefit the Bergen family. Nash's daughter, Mia, is Kaylie's best friend at school.

"It's very personal for us," Nash said. "I was always so touched by Christy. She's a supermom, she's so awesome."

Amid their worst nightmare, the Bergen family has found comfort through community support as well as a positive attitude.

"We have a whole new appreciation for weekends," Christy said. "It's easier to be positive with this when you know you've got that many people coming together and supporting. They want the best for Kaylie and will do anything to help."

Likewise, each day for the Bergens is about having fun as a family, which includes 3-year-old Dylan.

"It's been rough, but seeing her kind of rally around a little bit is really nice," Russ Bergen said of his daughter's progress. "We're just trying to spend as much time as we can with her and have fun and do all the things that she wants to do, and just spoil her rotten while we can."

Christy added that Kaylie's main goal is to run again.

"I learn from her every day," she said. "That makes mom strong."

Learn more

• Federal Way resident TaShawna Nash set up an account for donations to benefit Kaylie Bergen and family. Anybody can donate to Kaylie's Fund via the drive-through at Sterling Savings Bank, 1700 S.320th St. (at 320th St. and Pacific Highway South).

• Donations can also be mailed to Kaylie's Fund, c/o TaShawna Nash, 3632 S. 334th St., Federal Way, WA 98001. To learn more, e-mail tashawnanash@comcast.net.

• A rummage sale sponsored by the Lakeland Elementary School PTA will be held Friday, April 23 (time to be announced later). All proceeds will benefit the Bergen family.

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