12:47. That’s what time it was when my phone rang Friday afternoon. I picked up figuring it was mom, calling to make plans about the wedding we were helping to set up for that evening. I immediately knew it had nothing to do with a wedding when she asked “are you busy”, the tone of her voice signaled something was wrong and a lump began to form in my throat as I waited for her to proceed.
I could tell she had been crying, and struggled to make out what she was saying. All I really understood was Olivia. Tumor. Heading to Riley Children's Hospital.
12:47pm on a Friday. That’s when I learned my 22 month old niece had cancer.
I left work and met my mom at the hospital. As soon as I rounded the corner and saw her I broke down; “Hasn’t our family had enough cancer?!” We made our way up to the CT scan waiting room, where a very melancholy toddler brightened up a bit as she saw her grammy and aunt walk through the doorway. Friday afternoon was full of testing and more testing, and waiting and more waiting.
We learned it was called a Wilms Tumor, was 11cm and had engulfed nearly her entire kidney. Surgery was inevitable, as was chemo and possibly even radiation. The plan developed that the surgery would be done that night, Friday, not even 12 hours after finding out. However it was later pushed back to Monday afternoon (today) because they wanted to make sure multiple surgeons were on call. Everyone was sent home for the weekend, faced with more waiting. And questioning. And crying.
The question of the weekend: “How did they find out??” The answer: Olivia had been constipated, they went to their normal doctor who scheduled an xray Friday morning to take a better look at things, and lo and behold the tumor was discovered.
I am thankful Olivia is too young to really understand what’s going on, and also that she has really had no symptoms which means no pain. I am thankful my brother and sister-in-law are so strong and calm about all of this. I am thankful she is at one of the best children’s hospitals in the Midwest, and I’m thankful for the outpouring of love and prayers that have been offered up from anyone and everyone.
It absolutely sucks that she has to go through this. There’s no better way to put it. Next month, she will turn 2 and will have gone through things that hopefully no one you know will ever have to go through. It’s going to be a long road ahead of us but I am confident she will get through this, we will get through this. It’s in her blood, she’s a fighter just like the rest of the family.