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Olivia Alexander is a happy, sweet baby girl with a smile and laugh that is contagious to all who come in to contact with her. She also loves to eat, which was why her mother Amanda became slightly worried when at five months old, Olivia was very fussy and refused to take her bottle. Acknowledging that it might be a reaction to a previous antibiotic or the normal ups and downs of a baby’s temperament, Amanda wanted to play it safe and took her to a small hospital to have her checked out.
The doctor in the ER that night saw how inconsolable Olivia was and ordered some blood work to check for abnormalities. After tests showed that her white blood cell count was only 22,000, which was too high for a healthy infant. Olivia underwent a spinal tap and a CT scan which revealed a mass that covered the entire right side of little Olivia’s brain. It was discovered to be ependymoma, a malignant form of brain cancer. If that wasn’t devastating enough, it was later discovered that another pocket of fluid on top of the mass contained 4 ounces of fluid.
Olivia immediately entered into treatment and is currently on her fourth cycle of chemotherapy at Charleston Area Medical Center – Women and Children’s Hospital and is progressing well with minimal side effects.
Despite her young age and all that she’s been through, Olivia still smiles and laughs everyday prompting Amanda to remain upbeat and positive, and most importantly – focus on the future. She sees Olivia’s strength daily as she works on crawling, walking, babbling and doing everything else typical for babies her age. Amanda cherishes everyday with Olivia whose bravery and spirit has inspired her to advocate for additional research into both Olivia’s type of cancer, as well as better treatments for all children with cancer.
Information provided by Amanda Alexander, Olivia’s Mom
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