Greatest Calling

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I saw a quote online today posted by one of my favorite Christian artists. It said, “God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling.” This statement couldn’t ring more true for my life.

Becoming Olivia’s mom was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. Words can’t really express how much I loved her from the moment I saw her. Parenting Olivia was far from easy. She had so many medical issues from the moment she was born prematurely. She required supplemental oxygen several times during her life. She was diagnosed with brain cancer and epilepsy just 4 short months into her life. She required countless medications during the day and a feeding tube to survive. I had to work hard with her to develop each and every skill that came naturally to her twin brother, Wyatt. But I can honestly say that I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I would’ve done it forever if it meant I got to keep her.

Losing her was the worst experience of my life. I will never forget the moment I had to pass her lifeless body over to the coroner and watch him take her out of our home for the last time. In that moment I had no idea how I would ever go on. But that horrible moment was also the launching pad of the greatest calling for my life – Olivia’s foundation.

I knew long before Olivia lost her battle to cancer that I had to do something. I wanted her name to be remembered. I wanted to make a difference and find a cure. Losing her only intensified my desire to make that dream come true. And now I put every ounce of the energy I would’ve used to parent my baby girl into her foundation.

I wish every day that life could be different. I wish that cancer had never entered our lives and most of all I wish I had her here and healthy. But since that wish can’t be granted I will fight with all that I have for other children in her name. I love you my beautiful girl. Forever and for always.

The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research in memory of Olivia Caldwell who passed away from brain cancer at 20 months old in October 2013. You can learn more and donate by visiting www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.

 

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One thought on “Greatest Calling

  1. I’m sorry to learn of your loss. You can see from the photos how much you love your daughter. I lost my 11 year old soon to a brain tumor (PNET) in 2002. I think of Hassan everyday. In honor of his memory, I’m doing my dissertation research on communication between oncologists and parents. Would you consider participating?
    More info is below…

    Dear Future Participant:

    You are invited to participate in a study that seeks to better understand how parents of children with cancer make treatment decisions on behalf of their child. Part of this study includes an interest in communication factors between healthcare providers and parents. An additional interest includes how parents manage the grief process after the loss of their child to cancer.

    The principal investigator in this study has invited you to participate because you have direct experience with making cancer treatment decisions and you have experienced the death of a child in relation to cancer complications or disease progression. Your participation is voluntary and you may discontinue at any time.

    The purpose of this letter is to fully explain the nature of this study, the time commitment involved in your participation, and the type of activities you will engage in. You will not receive monetary compensation for your participation. However, as a gesture of appreciation for your assistance, you will receive a $35.00 Amazon gift card, mailed directly to your email account.
    This will be sent to you upon completion of all questionnaires, described in detail below.
    If you can recommend someone for the study who is qualified and accepted, you will receive an additional $20.00 Amazon gift card, sent directly to your email account, once the referred person is deemed eligible. More information is included on the consent form for this study.

    If you agree to participate, you will receive an electronic link to a four surveys and one open ended question. You will be presented with a series of statements about your satisfaction with physician communication, and the decisions that you made on behalf of your child. There will be eight additional questions about how you experience your own life today. In each case, you will be presented with five response choices. Each survey should take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The final open ended question should take approximately 15-20 minutes to answer.

    There are no anticipated dangers to you for participating in this research. However, possible discomfort may include feelings of sadness or anger when recalling past events about your experiences in a health care setting. The investigator will take all precautions to make sure that you feel as comfortable as possible in all activities.

    If you should feel the need to receive individualized counseling during or after your participation in the study, you should contact your primary doctor for a list of mental health providers covered by your medical insurance company. If you would like to connect with a grief support group online, please refer to the following list of resources as listed on the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists website: http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Grieving_the_Loss_of_A_Child.aspx

    Resources
    • Bereaved Parents of the U.S.A. A self-help group that offers support, understanding, compassion and hope to bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.
    • Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation: Founded by parents of children with cancer, this group offers support to parents who have a child diagnosed with cancer and those whose child has died of cancer.
    • Compassionate Friends: An organization for bereaved parents, assisting families following the death of a child.

    Sincerely,

    Danielle D. Sperandeo
    Principal Investigator
    909-286-0002
    dsperandeo@yahoo.com

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