Olivia and her mom, Karmen, were on their way to Olivia’s first modeling gig when she started complaining of chest pains. After a visit to the emergency room that found a mass in Olivia’s chest, she was admitted for further testing. Two weeks later she started treatment for lymphoma at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Wheaton.
Treatment caused Olivia to miss school and her mom to take a leave of absence from work. Olivia kept strong faith and remained her quirky and goofball self.
“She’s just a happy and go lucky kid,” her mom said.
Olivia’s child life specialist referred her to Make-A-Wish Illinois, and she immediately began to brainstorm possible wishes that involved travel. She dreamed of places like Bali, Dubai and Hawaii. Hawaii was a place that her family had always wanted to visit together.
“I wanted to travel somewhere to make more memories,” Olivia said. “On a vacation, you can make memories and learn a new culture.”
While on the island of Oahu, Olivia and her family swam with dolphins, took a bus and catamaran tour, experienced a Luau, went parasailing and visited multiple beaches. Some of her favorite moments were while swimming in the ocean and relaxing on the beach. It was the first time the whole family was able to take a trip together.
“The best part of the trip was celebrating Olivia,” her mom said. “We talked on the trip that a year ago she had cancer and now she’s in remission. We did a lot of reflecting talking about it. It was a celebration of life for Olivia and her being healthy a year later.”
Olivia and her mom are thankful for the memories they created on the trip and want to give back to Make-A-Wish by becoming wish granters and participating in the Walk for Wishes event this September.
“It opened our eyes to giving back and made us realize what kids are going through,” her mom said. “All of this stuff is around us and when you go through it yourself, you are like…’wow’.”
According to Karmen, her daughter’s wish experience took the family’s mind off of what they were going through and gave them something to look forward to despite long treatments and hospital stays.
“What a blessing,” Karmen continued saying, “Make-A-Wish has been a blessing to our family and we are so grateful to them. I just want to say thank you.”
Olivia is in remission and continues to be an active, healthy teenager. She is looking forward to her senior year of high school in the fall and is continuing to pursue modeling. She currently has a modeling contract with Modelogic Midwest.
“I am so grateful for every experience and Make-A-Wish for giving my family an opportunity to go,” Olivia said. “It gave me a lot of memories and it made me appreciate life more.”