Ave Maria

Community Compassion: Serafina’s Wish Fulfilled in Ave Maria

Serafina Feger was two years old when she was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), a defect on the 17th chromosome that affects the body’s production of nerve fibromas and causes tumors to form in the brain, spinal cord and nerves.

The diagnosis came after Serafina began experiencing a progression of weakness and pain, specifically on the right side of her body. Following a series of neurological tests and scans, it was revealed that Serafina had a low-grade Glioma infiltrating her spinal cord, brainstem and cerebellum.

“It was certainly shocking. You kind of go through that whole array of thoughts like, she could have all these things happen to her and there’s a chance that she’s going to suffer tremendously. You just don’t know,” Elizabeth said. “That’s the thing about NF1. They can live an absolutely next-to-normal life with very little symptoms, or they could experience very severe symptoms.”

The Fegers recounted that one of the more difficult parts of this journey was seeing the effects it had on the rest of their children, specifically Serafina’s older sister.

Ave Maria resident, Serafina Feger with her new playground set.

Serafina beams with happiness as she explores her new playground set.

“I think it’s obviously hard at first because she lost her playmate. Her everyday playmate who was suddenly sitting on the couch in an excruciating amount of pain,” Elizabeth said.

Deeply ingrained in the town of Ave Maria, Brett and Elizabeth Feger found solace through the support of their community. As long-time town residents and staff members of Ave Maria University, the Fegers turned to their friends, family and faith to get through the difficult times.

We were really surrounded by the community here. The support we received from the university, as well as the town, was just incredible,” Elizabeth said.

In addition to the chemotherapy and MEK inhibitor used to treat Serafina’s condition, the Fegers believed that supplementing treatment with natural care was imperative in aiding the young girl’s health journey.

On the road to recovery, Serafina has now returned to doing what she loves most: playing with her sisters. This January, Make-A-Wish Southern Florida granted now three-year-old Serafina a brand-new playset, which will serve as a long-lasting source of fun childhood memories for her and her siblings.

“Serafina loves to play with her sisters and so, this gives her an opportunity to play with her sisters every day and even share it with her friends,” Brett said. “It’ll serve the girls for years to come, and even our son, who is due in a couple of months.”

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