On September 26th 2006, we received news no parent should hear. We were told our daughter had Cancer at the tender age of four. Our journey began that day and we could not have survived if it were not for the care, help, love and support of St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Our daughter, Olivia, started treatment the very next day. A day we will never forget…September 27th…my husband, Pete, Olivia, myself and 6 day year old Matthew boarded a plane to Memphis. We arrived at St. Jude Hospital and were welcomed with open arms. That day we became a member of the St. Jude family. The diagnosis Olivia received was Leukemia. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and her treatment would consist of chemotherapy. Olivia underwent chemo for 2 years and 8 months. The first eight months of treatment were the hardest, but Olivia conquered each day with such bravery and strength. She remained in good spirits and was always happy to see her Doctors and Nurses. She loved each and every one of them dearly and they loved her too! Olivia completed treatment in May of 2009. She will return to St. Jude for yearly check-ups until the age of 21.
The care she received at St. Jude Children’s Hospital was unbelievable. The fight for every child that enters through the doors and they do all they can to save every child’s life. Olivia is our survivor and we thank God everyday for St. Jude. With Faith in God, Hope in St. Jude Hospital and Love for each other we have survived this extraordinary journey and continue to give thanks for such an amazing Hospital.
We are happy to say Olivia has been cancer free for almost ten years! She is now 14 years old and in the eighth grade at Most Blessed Sacrament School. She will be starting St. Joseph’s Academy in August. Olivia is an honor roll student, Student Council Representative, Beta Club Chaplain, volleyball player and an altar server. She was also selected as the 5th grader of the year to represent MBS in the Baton Rouge Diocese and in the 7th grade was an “LPB Young Hero” for the start of Louisiana. She has helped with many fundraisers in the Baton Rouge area for St. Jude. She enjoys helping with the St. Jude Walk to end Childhood Cancer and the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. Olivia has big dreams for her future! She aspires to become a Doctor at St. Jude so she can help save the lives of more children.
As a family, we wanted to give back to St. Jude because they saved our daughter. Back in 2008, we formed “Team O” in honor of Olivia for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend. We started out with just a few family members but “Team O” has now grown to almost 100 team members. As a team, we have raised over $275,000 and hoping to raise so much more for the hospital in years to come!!
-- Gina Castelluccio