On February 13, 2013 our sweet little girl Olivia took this picture on what was supposed to be her last day of chemo forever! The joy we felt was indescribable. Our little champion had taken on cancer and won. We were going to get to watch her grow up and play and be a normal healthy kid which was all that we wanted for her. When I wheeled her off of the cancer floor that day I was absolutely beaming. What an amazing first birthday present for Olivia and Wyatt. Their first birthday was just 6 days later on February 19th. It was supposed to be the start of a brand new beginning for us as a family with twins.
Only it wasn’t. Olivia did really well for a few months but beginning in May things started to turn. She stopped wanting to drink anything by mouth and needed to be hospitalized and have a feeding tube placed. Then she started having seizures again when her epilepsy had been previously under control. And then one horrible June afternoon we heard the words, “your daughter’s tumor is back and it’s even bigger than before. We aren’t sure what we can do this time.” And just like that all of our hopes and dreams came crashing down around us. What if she didn’t make it? What if she can’t beat this a second time?
And so we went through more surgeries, more chemo, more EEG’s, countless MRI’s and had a brief period of stability where her tumor didn’t shrink or grow, but she did lose a lot of her developmental skills. All the while clinging to the hope that she would be okay. She had to be!
Then on October 22, 2013 our little girl became an angel in Heaven after battling cancer for 16 months.
We had one birthday with her. One Christmas. One Valentine’s Day. We will never again get to see her open presents, hear her laugh, or feel her embrace on this earth. Now we are faced with new anniversaries…. the anniversary of when she was diagnosed, the anniversary of her relapse, the anniversary of what was supposed to be her last chemo, the anniversary of the day she left this earth. We will face birthdays, holidays, family vacations, and new milestones all without the 4th member of our family. No matter how much we long for her we won’t be able to be with her again until God calls us home.
Childhood cancer isn’t rare. There are 91,000 other families across the world that are facing their child’s first birthday since their passing. 91,000 empty bedrooms. In the U.S. alone 7 more kids will die from childhood cancer today. You can do something! Help us to honor Olivia’s life and the lives of all the other kids that have been called home far too soon by talking to your friends and family about childhood cancer. Donate to life saving research. Together we can make a difference. Together we can find a cure. Because our future deserves a future!
Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a pending 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric brain cancer research. You can learn more and donate by visiting our website. www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.