“I would do anything for my children” is a phrase that Charles Bicknell had heard many parents say throughout his life, but until something happens you don’t realize that you really would put your life on the line for your child.
Olivia Asia Bicknell was diagnosed on June 22, 2016, with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. Olivia had experienced none of the typical warning signs or indicators of a brain tumor. She had shown no symptoms when she fell and hit her head on a coffee table. Her parents originally weren’t even going to take her to the emergency room, but the next day she began vomiting causing immediate concern. The first day she was in the emergency room, the doctors were watching her with plans of sending her home without any tests as she seemed to only be experiencing the symptoms of a concussion. However, Olivia threw up one more time causing the doctors to worry and do imaging on her brain as a precaution. What they found was something Olivia’s family had never expected: a brain tumor. It was that day that Olivia was terminally diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.
The moment the doctors entered the room, Charles, Olivia’s father, knew just by their badges that something was wrong and he instantly broke down. One cannot even imagine the pain of finding out that your child will likely pass before you until you’ve experienced it. Immediately you want to do anything you can to help and change their fate, but sometimes there is nothing in your power to do. The doctors had found the tumor early, but Charles wasn’t really sure if that was even a good thing at the time. Of course, they got more time with Olivia because of it, but he was unsure if finding it earlier would allow them to help her any better. Charles’ faith in God grew from that day on. Olivia’s treatment began with 9 weeks of radiation. The journey from the time Olivia was diagnosed was uneasy, fearful, faithful, and encouraging. Encouraging is not a word you would typically associate with this situation, but for Charles, his strength grew immensely during this time and he was encouraged by his faith. Olivia fought the disease for almost a year before she, unfortunately, gained her wings.
DIPG is a parents’ worst nightmare. The diagnosis is terminal and the disease leaves the child trapped in a shell of their own body. This time of battling the disease and undergoing treatments is not only hard for the child but also for the family. This is not a journey you can undergo alone. You need a support system to carry you through this experience. Luckily, Charles had an amazing inner circle of love. They had good friends and family that showed their true support during this hard time. The best advice Charles could give is to lean on your friends and family. It’s important to be encouraged and uplifted in this awful time.
There is such little money and research that goes toward DIPG, that there has not been much progress over the years. Sometimes, all the parents really understand about DIPG is how little funding there is. That is why it is so necessary that we not only work to raise funds for research and treatments, but also to spread awareness about the disease so that more people can better understand what DIPG means. Children like Olivia deserve to have the best chance at life.
By Halleigh Ficcaro