July 17th is one of my least favorite days of the entire year. It’s a day I would love to forget, but one that will always be written in permanent ink on my memory.
You see, July 17, 2012 is the date my baby girl was diagnosed with brain cancer. I took Olivia to the doctor that morning knowing she was having seizures. I was obviously deeply concerned, but I truly thought she had a neurological disorder that could be easily treated. I never imagined she had cancer running rampant inside her sweet 4-month old body.
I normally like to hibernate a bit on that day, but this year that simply wasn’t possible.
Late at night on July 16th Olivia’s twin brother, Wyatt, woke up in a lot of pain and a very swollen finger. I took him to the ER where he received some antibiotics for an infection that had developed in his fingertip and we were released to go home. But by the afternoon of the 17th he was getting a whole lot worse.
I took Wyatt into the pediatrician for a follow-up and just like that we were admitted to the hospital so he could receive IV antibiotics. My sweet little boy’s Type 1 Diabetes made it impossible for him to fight off what would likely be a minor infection for most other kiddos.
It was a truly surreal experience to be admitted to the hospital again with one of my babies on that same date.
All the sights, sounds and smells in the hospital were haunting. It was like I was right back in that hospital room with Olivia on the night we found out she had brain cancer. Each time the door opened or the machines beeped I could see her. She was so tiny, so helpless, and so, so sick.
Wyatt is back home and on the mend. Thankfully his stay was just slightly over 24 hours and as I write this now he is running around my office like nothing ever happened.
I on the other hand am still pretty shaken up. And still pretty haunted by the experience of being in the hospital again.
You truly never know what could be around the corner.
Hold your babies close. So kiss your kids tonight, tell them you love them, and treasure each night you get to tuck them in at home safely in their beds. I would give so much to be able to do that for my baby girl just one more time.
The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research in memory of Olivia Caldwell, who passed away from brain cancer at 20 months old in October 2013. To date we have given $225,000 to pediatric cancer research. To learn more or to donate, please visit www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.