When we started the Olivia Caldwell Foundation in November 2013, we were only a month out from her death. The sting of losing her was so fresh and we were searching for some way to give meaning to her loss. We knew we wanted to provide funding for pediatric cancer research to find the cure that had eluded her. And yesterday we were able to write another check for $40,000 to our research team at Children’s Hospital Colorado! We have now been able to give $155,000 to pediatric cancer research in just under 3 years thanks to the support of all of our sponsors and donors.
During our visit to Children’s Hospital Colorado we also got the annual presentation from our lead researcher, Dr. Nick Foreman, on what they have used the money for from our last donation in October 2015. And we got some truly extraordinary news…
They have had a massive breakthrough! The research team discovered in 2013 that Olivia had a specific type of genetic mutation (FGFR1) that caused her immune system to turn cold against the cancer. That was why her “treatable” low-grade glioma never acted like a typical low-grade glioma. They spent this most recent year researching how to turn on the immune systems for other patients with this type of genetic mutation. The FGFR1 genetic mutation also occurs in other types of cancers. And this year they found it! A new drug called Axitinib can actually turn on a patient’s immune system and penetrate the blood brain barrier to stop the cancer! This is an oral tablet that will be going to clinical trials through the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium this next year. That means that these children will no longer need central lines or chemo infusions and it has far fewer side effects.
This breakthrough also led them to re-think the way they fight cancer. They have also developed a blood test, which can be done when a child is diagnosed with a low grade glioma. That blood test will show what the driving genetic mutation is behind the cancer’s growth. And then they will have a tumor data bank available that will show them what the treatment needs to be based on the type of cancer and the specific genetic mutation that’s driving it. It is called personalized medicine. What makes it even more amazing is that this big breakthrough came about because of Olivia! We provided funding and they chose to use the first check to find out why her cancer acted the way it did. Finding the answer to that question has led a breakthrough that will change the way cancer is treated for children all over the world.
So today I sit here in awe! I am amazed by what God is using our daughter’s story to do! I am so grateful to our board, our staff, our family, our volunteers, our sponsors and to every single person that has donated to this cause. You are changing the lives of children battling cancer! You are changing the way this horrible disease is treated. And it all started with a little hazel-eyed girl named Olivia.
The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research. Since 2013 the foundation has given $155,000 to pediatric cancer research. You can learn more and donate at www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.