WHITE OAK, (Texas) – It’s four words no parent ever want’s to hear: “Your child has cancer.” Unfortunately, though, cases are on the rise. This year, more than 10 thousand children will be diagnosed before they turn 15.
For one East Texas girl, her diagnosis isn’t stopping her from helping others along the way.
February 15 was a normal day for 12-year-old Olivia Deslatte, when her parents noticed something was wrong. Olivia’s face had swelled up around her neck and lower face. Her parents thought it was a side effect from a common allergy.
Then, her parents say they couldn’t sleep, thinking, “something inside me just felt like something’s off.”
The next morning, they took Olivia to a quick care emergency room, just to make sure their suspicions were correct.
“They did blood work and then the doctor came in and said, I really want to do a CT Scan, something just doesn’t look right,” said Regina Deslatte, Olivia’s mother.
What they were told next was something they never saw coming.
“Recently in February, I got diagnosed with cancer,” said Olivia in a Facebook video.
Olivia was diagnosed with an aggressive T-Cell, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The Deslatte’s were shocked when doctors told them Olivia had a massive tumor in her chest. It was so large it had moved part of her heart.
“It was pushing her lungs into her spine and even wrapped itself around her trachea,” described Mrs. Deslatte. “They didn’t know how fast the tumor was growing so they had to rush her by ambulance to Children’s in Dallas.”
There, Olivia would spend 32 days in the hospital.
“I remember I was so shocked. I was like, I have cancer. I can’t believe it, why me? Like the shock is unexplainable,” said Olivia.
Now back home, Olivia is hoping her story will spark change. Looking for more information and research into this mysteries diagnosis.
“The doctors put it to us this way. It’s a random act of nature. It’s just , it could hit anyone, any child, at any time. Nothing caused it, and nothing to prevent it,” said Mrs. Deslatte.
According to the National Pediatric Cancer Center, out of the billions of dollars the government spends on cancer research, only 4 percent goes into childhood cancer.
“More research needs to be done for pediatric cancer. The funding is not there, there is so much that still needs to be done. A lot of research is at least 10 years old, and we just want to bring more awareness to the massive need.” explained Mrs. Deslatte.
This month, especially hit home for this family. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, aimed at shining a light on lack of research and funding.
A study done by Northwestern University shows pediatric cancer receives 177 million dollars in funding for research, where breast cancer receives more than double that amount, with 460 million dollars.
“The hardest part is the chemo, because it makes you feel so bad, even though it helps you on the inside, it makes the outside of you feel horrible,” explained Olivia.
She is a young warrior, Olivia is staying strong for those who are fighting the same fight as her.
The Deslatte’s say Olivia will have to undergo chemo for the next two years, but because there isn’t enough research for this type of cancer in children, they won’t know if the treatment worked until the end of those two years.
Olivia’s family has set up a Gofundme account for her to help offset medical costs.