Local girl has plenty of allies in her battle with cancer
Thursday, 23 January 2014 14:31

Brenna Kasoff sits with her boyfriend Cory Ziegler during chemotherapy treatment.

Kasoff struck with ovarian cancer at age 18

by John G. Bailey

    Cancer can strike anyone at any age.
    Brenna Kasoff graduated from Dundalk High School last June. As a student, she had run track and played soccer. So when Brenna went off to her freshman year of college at Northern Michigan University, the last thing her mother Joyce Kasoff expected was the phone call she got from her daughter on Nov. 24.
    A local hospital had diagnosed Brenna with advanced ovarian cancer.
    She needed to get home and she needed emergency medical care — fast. The trip back to Dundalk was touch and go. “I was increasingly certain that the flight was too much,” her mother recalled, “but Brenna wanted to push on.”
    Immediately upon arriving in Baltimore, she was admitted to Mercy Hospital and underwent emergency surgery the next day. Surgeons removed a tumor the size of a fist. According to Brenna’s physician, she may not have survived another day without the operation.
    “Imagine you are an 18-year-old woman,” Joyce Kasoff said. “You wake up in intensive care with a complete hysterectomy, an ileostomy and a bladder resection,  unable to move or lift a leg due to nerve damage. Brenna woke up to an entirely different world with more challenges than most of us face in a lifetime.”
    Two weeks after surgery, Brenna’s cancer was identified: the rare and aggressive desmoplastic small round-cell cancer
    “That [“rare and aggressive”] describes Brenna,” family friend Denise Hennaut opined during an interview with The Eagle. “She’s really fighting this cancer. She wakes up every day thinking things are going to get better.”
    Brenna is currently undergoing chemotherapy.
    Her family has lived in Dundalk for three generations. Her maternal grandfather grew up in the community and worked at the Sparrows Point steel mill, as did many other relatives.
    A network of family, friends and community supporters has evolved to help Brenna during her illness.
    “Dundalk people tend to help each other,” Hennaut said.
    Hennaut designed the “TeamBrenna” t-shirt to raise money. So far, 120 shirts have been sold. One hundred more have been ordered.
    A website was created for benefactors with the goal of raising $5,000 to help Brenna’s family with medical expenses. Those wishing to donate may visit www.gofundme.com/teambrenna.
    A family friend who recently lost her mother requested that memorial contributions be sent to the gofundme website for Brenna, in lieu of flowers. 
    A basket quarter auction to raise money for Brenna is planned for Sunday, Feb. 9, at the Bethlehem Council Knights of Columbus’ home, 7401 Bayfront Road. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the bidding starts at 2 p.m. A variety of vendors will be represented. Tickets are $5 and include two paddles.
    “Our family is most grateful for the love, concern and kindness shown by friends, family and even strangers,” Joyce Kasoff said.
    Brenna is pursuing a major in criminal justice and a minor in psychology at Northern Michigan University. “She just wants to be a normal 18-year-old,” Hennault said. “She’s not going to give up.”