Five years ago I knew nothing of childhood cancer. I didn’t even have children yet. I was newly married to my high school sweetheart and we knew we wanted children but hadn’t had the privilege of holding our own child in our arms.
Five years ago when I dreamed of my children I just knew we would live a fairytale. I would have a boy and a girl. They would be healthy and beautiful. As a family we would have a lot of adventures. We would go on trips. And go camping. We would have family movie nights. And I would be able to watch them grow up into amazing people who served our amazing God.
On February 19, 2012, we were blessed with two beautiful children. A boy and a girl. Despite their premature birth, they both seemed very healthy. We just thought we had to get through their time in the NICU and then it would be smooth sailing. Then our happy family fairytale could begin.
July 16, 2012 was the day our perfect dream became a horrifying nightmare. Our beautiful daughter was taken by life flight to Denver where she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She was only 4 months old. My dreams of having children never included watching my daughter suffer and ultimately die in my arms before she even reached her second birthday.
Childhood cancer has done this same thing to countless families. No one has children expecting them to get sick and pass away before they’ve even had a chance to really live. But yet, 46 mothers and fathers will be told today that their baby has cancer. They will be thrown into a world of hospital stays, surgeries, chemo treatments, radiation, stress, anxiety and hopelessness. Another 7 will kiss their child for the last time today as they make their final journey to Heaven.
So, you don’t think this will happen in your family? I thought the same thing. And so did every other cancer family I have ever met. None of us ever asked for this.
You are probably asking yourself what you can do? And why should you care enough to act now?
The scary fact is that this could become your reality. Your child could be diagnosed tomorrow. Or next year. Or even five years from now. So, I beg of you. Please start fighting now. Start caring now before it is your child fighting for their life in a hospital room. I wish every day that we had started before we ever heard those four horrible words, “your child has cancer.”
The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric brain cancer research. All proceeds benefit the neuro-oncology research team at Children’s Hospital Colorado. To learn more and to donate please visit our website at www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.