This Thursday, October 22nd will mark 2 years since we kissed our daughter goodbye and watched her soul depart for heaven. These anniversaries are always incredibly difficult to get through. It’s a reminder of what you lost and that yet another year has passed since you had the pleasure of your child’s company.
The greatest gift you can give grieving parents is to remember the child they lost. The simplest acknowledgement that their baby was real and loved and desperately missed is often all they need to make it through another day without them. And this rings true for us too.
We had the pleasure of presenting a check for the second year in a row to Olivia’s doctor as a part of our foundation. This year the check was for $50,000 and it helps to pay for research projects performed in his pediatric neuro-oncology lab.
As a part of our trip to Denver for the check presentation we also had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Dr. Foreman on what he used our money for from the previous year. We found out that he used it to work on research related specifically to Olivia – even using data from her tumor as a big part of it.
And the best part is, he found something! With the aid of other researchers they found out that a different gene mutation occurred in Olivia’s tumor than what is typically found in astrocytomas. This gene mutation is why her tumor never acted like a typical astrocytoma. It is why her tumor was diffuse instead of a solid mass. It is why her tumor metastasized and spread down her spine. And it is ultimately why she didn’t survive despite the fact that astrocytomas are typically very treatable. His research discovered that this gene mutation caused her immune system to become “cold,” meaning it didn’t turn on to try and fight off the tumor. And now that they have this information, the next step is to figure out what they need to do to get children with this gene mutation to have their immune systems turn back on. And that’s where the $50,000 we just gave them will go to this year.
This breakthrough was a big deal! It’s a relatively rare gene mutation but still affects hundreds of kids each year. When they find a treatment that works, they will be able to save the lives of these kids, whereas right now it is basically a death sentence.
And what truly warms our hearts (besides seeing the difference being made in remembrance of our daughter) is that after 2 years, her wonderful doctor is still fighting for her. He still cares. He still remembers her. He couldn’t save her life, but he still wanted to know why he couldn’t and what he could have done to have had a different outcome.
When we heard his presentation and learned of this tremendous progress, we were left speechless. We got an answer because he remembered. Because our daughter was so loved by this man who has treated thousands of other children, we got the gift of an explanation.
Thank you to Dr. Nick Foreman and his team for their hard work and dedication to saving the lives of pediatric cancer patients. Thank you for taking such good care of our daughter and so many others. We are so blessed to be a small part of supporting your amazing work. And a big thank you to everyone who has donated over the past two years and supported us. You are making a difference!
Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research. You can learn more and donate by visiting our website at www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.