On December 3rd we took our 2.5 year old daughter Olivia to PM pediatrics (an urgent care facility) as she had randomly thrown up 4 times in seven days, our pediatrician had said it was a stomach bug earlier in the week, it didn’t make sense as my husband and I had no symptoms…so there we were on a Friday night at an urgent care and Jesus was there too because the doctor wouldn’t stop running tests to help us explain the symptoms Olivia had- she demonstrated being more tired, off balance at times and randomly throwing up. She exhausted all she could do, sent us to a hospital to “rule out anything else” and get a CT scan.
That night, the storm hit: a resident came to explain to my husband and I that Olivia had a large mass in her brian and needed immediate brain surgery in the morning. Within the next few hours we decided to go to CHOP and we waited for ambulances, or a helicopter to bring us- but multiple times they were re-routed. We signed out AMA and drove her ourselves praying the whole way as we had a car issue and the hospital told us it wasn’t wise to do that- but we couldn’t take the chance of our baby not being in the best care. This was the beginning of the storm we are still battling. The next few days Olivia would undergo two brain surgeries and we would get the results that she has medulloblastoma in her brain, spinal fluid and spine. The world stops when the word cancer is heard with your daughter’s name in the same sentence. For us it meant living in the hospital for almost 7 months in another state during the pandemic when no visitors were permitted to come. Without God, we wouldn’t be standing.
Everyday we committed to make Olivia smile and make memories the best we could. They tell you to live “one day at a time” for us, we made it our mission to “Live like Liv!” Our Olivia battled with joy. She underwent a total of four brain surgeries, six rounds of chemotherapy, and three stem cell transplants at CHOP. We lived at Club CHOP (what we called it) for most of December through July, and Olivia rarely didn’t smile or find joy in each day, despite spending Christmas on the oncology floor and new years in the PICU. She lost her ability to talk, walk, and see from one eye, but thankfully all of those skills came back with lots of hard work from our girl! We would create scavenger hunts, hold tea parties, celebrate her stuffed animals birthdays with play doh cakes, dance during bathtime to oldies, play hide and seek in the halls and have water gun fights in our room. Olivia during her sixth round was so excited to head back to club CHOP from home because her OT and her had planned to host a lemonade stand in her hospital room for the nurses and doctors. Yes, we made memories, and yes we had horrible moments amidst making those memories. Olivia rang the bell for her treatment ending in July of 2022. She still doesn’t have fully clear scans but we are not giving up hope. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for selflessly praying for us.