The past 6 years have been a rollercoaster that has completely changed who I am as a person. What began as a rather shaky faith in God has morphed into a full belief that has shaped my very being. I wish I could say that faith came easily. But it has been through trial and fire.
At this time four years ago we had just wrapped up our first ever family vacation with our 14-month-old twins. Olivia was a few months post-chemo and we were able to take them back to Reno, NV to meet our friends and extended family. That was the first and last vacation we ever took with the twins.
Olivia’s health had become quite concerning in the week leading up to our trip. After many conversations with her neuro-oncology team we decided to take the trip anyways, and I’m so glad we did. That trip is now one of my most treasured memories.
But just a few days after we returned to Wyoming Olivia had back-to-back seizures one evening and we knew that an MRI couldn’t wait any longer. And on June 6, 2013 we got the news that not only was Olivia’s cancer back, but it was even bigger than the first time. Our little girl was battling cancer for the second time at just 14 months old.
The next four months brought weekly chemo, more MRI’s, another surgery to place a new mediport, and another bout with a severe form of epilepsy. I was exhausted in every way imaginable. We started to wonder how much more of this we could put her through. The tumor wasn’t shrinking and her quality of life began to diminish significantly. Just having that question in our hearts was horrific. It was in that time that I finally realized I had no control. My only chance for peace in the midst of the madness was to fully surrender my daughter’s life and health to God. We continued chemo and tried to do everything we could but with a new peace in knowing that she had always belonged to God.
In October 2013 Olivia’s life on earth ended. She fought a courageous battle with a very aggressive brain cancer for 16 months and she gave it all she had. And through her courage she forever changed me and countless other people.
Losing Olivia was without a doubt the worst experience of my life. But through that I have learned to trust God even if things don’t go the way I think they should. I have a peace that surpasses all understanding that I can’t begin to explain. Does that mean I don’t miss her or this doesn’t hurt like hell? Absolutely not! But I know that she mattered. Her life mattered. And even though I only got to keep her with me on earth for 20 months God gave me a pretty incredible way to keep being her mommy.
The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research. Since November 2013 we have given $155,000 to pediatric cancer research. You can learn more and donate by visiting www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.