La Crosse family seeks help for their daughter suffering terminal brain disease

Elsen family sets sights on building handicap-accessible home for daughter, asks for community support

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — A La Crosse family’s daughter is battling a terminal illness, and they’re asking the community for support.

Rivers don’t run through a straight path. There are plenty of obstacles along the way. Part of life the Elsen family knows all too well.

“All we can do is – you know – pain. Anything to make her comfortable,” said Melissa Elsen, mother of 15-year-old Cassidy.

Melissa and Kevin Elsen’s daughter suffers from a form of leukodystrophy called vanishing white matter.

“She just had an infection which caused us to be at the American Family Children’s Hospital for a little over two weeks,” Melissa said.

Nine years have passed since her diagnosis. The terminal disease affects the transmission of brain signals to the rest of the body. There is no cure.

“Every moment is a time to be cherished,” said Melissa, who cares for Cassidy’s needs each and every day.

“It’s literally you take one second or one minute at a time,”

Cassidy’s smile is worth every second the clock ticks, Melissa said.

“Cassidy is very resilient,” she said. “I will give you that.”

The Elsens’ three-story house has become more of a burden than a home.

“It’s just very hard to be able to do this alone anymore,” Melissa said.

Their hope is to raise money to build a one-story home so Cassidy won’t struggle to get in and out of her front door.

“It would be less stress trying to get her from point A to point B,” Kevin said.

The Elsens say it’s hard to ask for help, but they want peace of mind for the light of their world.

“As any parent, you will do anything that you can to take any pain or ease any discomfort that your child has,” Melissa said.

A chance to offer hope to someone Kevin says has given them far more.

“If I have a bad day, she’ll say, ‘Dad, how’s your day?’ I’ll say great because I get to see you,’” Kevin said.

The Elsens’ journey is far from straight and narrow.

“We are thankful and blessed to have” Cassidy, Melissa said.

Their love for one another guides them on a path of least resistance.

“Just keep pushing forward,” Kevin said. “That’s all we do.”

Anyone who would like to help Cassidy’s family can donate online.

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