There is something to be said about community - The way that it can wrap itself around us at the most delicate of times, and remind us that humanity is what holds us together when we are broken.
Last January was the last birthday that 7 year-old Olivia would have before her life would be changed forever. Her parents had no idea of the strength and courage that Olivia mustered up in order to pull her tiny self together and enjoy her skate party alongside friends and family. She was happy, and energetic, cheerful… and more exhausted than anyone would have imagined.
Three days after her party, this family’s entire life was turned upside down in all of 24 hours when Olivia was rushed to the hospital, and escorted through the emergency room where she waited with her mother for
lab results that would explain simple, overlooked, misunderstood signs – fatigue after a long day; bruises on her legs after playing hard at school, racing her friends across the monkey bars; after being a normal, playful, artistic little girl. Just hours before Olivia was diagnosed, she was just a little girl, who was too tired to brush her own teeth that night.
But when the doctor came into the cold, painfully quiet hospital room, and asked to speak to her mother privately, she knew – just like any mother would know - that something was severely wrong with her child. The doctor took her into a dark room, and just as quickly as the lights turned on, everything went dark. “She has leukemia.” One can’t even begin to imagine what those words sound like over a mother’s muffled mental screams – or the way that they would suck the life out of a father who has lost loved ones to cancer - Or the weight that her parents would carry just hours later when a team of doctors positioned themselves around a table and forced them to make critical decisions, while a nurse administered chemotherapy into their daughter’s spine.
The only vivid memories that Olivia’s mother has from that night are her sweet Olivia, lying in bed in her Frozen nightgown - long copper hair glowing like always - and a sign that hung on the wall in Olivia’s room that read, “Walk by Faith; Not by Sight.” When cancer strikes, and your child is critically ill, those words are all that you have to believe in. Olivia’s family was ripped apart and held together by “goodnight” storytime on FaceTime and lots of hope, while Olivia spent 70 days across 10 months at [the] hospital, embracing her new “normal.” Smiling, and dancing, and exploring the hospital, while her mother took short breaks just to cry silently in another room.
And all the while, Olivia melts hearts and touches the spirit of everyone who meets her. Olivia is not sick – she is joyful. She has the bravest perspective, and she never ever complains. And this year, while God worked through Olivia, He was also represented in the smiles, and the hugs, and the help of an entire community of people, who have enveloped Olivia and her family and reminded them that they are not alone.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is the most common malignancy diagnosed in children, representing one quarter of all pediatric cancers. Her family lives a relatively natural lifestyle, but have come to learn about all of the potential threats that can rob the body of healing, especially those in her bedroom. Her bed is adjacent to the outside wall, which had an electrical panel with a smart meter that has since been removed. Olivia’s parents would like to turn her room into a safe space, free of environmental and electrical threats.
For Olivia, a Rooms to Thrive would mean wellness and relief from anxiety and stress that has previously debilitated her physically. It would be a lasting, peaceful answer to all that she has endured this year, and all that she will ensure over the next year and a half as she receives ongoing treatment. Your donation will literally help to heal this family. And every day, as Olivia continues to THRIVE, they will be reminded all of the hands that helped along the way.
Help us give Olivia a Rooms to Thrive™ by donating here today.