Lauren Paige Olander was a typical five year-old. She had just finished pre-school and was excited to start kindergarten in the fall. She loved playing with her friends, swimming, soccer, dance, dogs, anything sparkley, and exploring the great outdoors. Lauren was proud to have just become a big sister and was looking forward to going to our family cottage that summer with her baby brother for the first time and showing him everything there was to do there.
In late May of 2011, Lauren lost her appetite and began loosing weight, became withdrawn from activity with friends, and was so very tired all the time. We thought she was just having a hard time adjusting to having a new baby in the house, rebelling in some way. It became apparent that it was more than that when she didn't even want to attend the annual Fairport Canal Days festival, an event she looked forward to every year. So, we took her to our pediatrician for a check-up and he suggested a blood test, thinking she may have Mono. That night, the phone rang just after 9 and when we saw the pediatrician's cell phone on the caller ID, we froze.
"I think it may be Leukemia" were the words that came across the receiver. "You need to take her to Strong Hospital immediately, they are expecting you". I packed a small bag, scooped a sleeping Lauren from her bed and we buckled her in to her car seat and drove to the hospital. I couldn't think, it all seemed so surreal (it still does). My husband pulled up in front of the emergency doors and I lifted Lauren out of her car seat and carried her inside. This task would have been impossible any other day, but the sheer adrenaline and panic I was feeling, coupled with her weight loss, I could have carried her for miles. I now have dreams of running away in the opposite direction with her in my arms as if I could have saved her myself.
On June 5, 2011, Lauren was diagnosed with a rare biphenotypic acute leukemia and a mass was also discovered in her chest. She immediatly began a steriod treatment to attack the mass in her chest. After a failed attempt at placing a picc line in her arm, Lauren underwent surgery to have a Broviac Catheter placed in her chest on June 9th. This was risky with the mass in her chest, but neccessary in order to start treatement for her leukemia. I was scared we would loose her during that surgery, but she came through with flying colors. After two weeks of treatment in the hospital, Lauren's leukemia was drastically improving. The day before she died, she even got dressed for the first time and ventured out to the hospital's play deck for a game of Wii. But a cure was not to be for Lauren, her little body just couldn't take the chemotherapy required and she died of an abdominal sepsis on Sunday, June 19th, Father's Day.
There is not a day that goes by that we don't think of and miss our little girl. We are grateful for the five years that God gave us with her and look forward to being reunited with her in His kingdom.
God made the whole world,
Tiny baby kittens and big tall trees,
Then God made me,
To know and to grow,