When Justin Oliver took the microphone and told the crowd that Olivia Carson was in the house, there was thunderous applause at the Annapolis Royal fire hall.
Olivia, the 13-year-old cancer survivor who pretty much wrote the book on being brave, was the star of the show March 6 as several hundred people gathered for Chase the Ace and happened to be on hand when the fire department made a $500 donation to the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation.
Olivia is like the fire department’s adopted daughter and members have followed her fight since the beginning.
“There is a very special person with us tonight and we would like to make a presentation or her behalf,” said Oliver. “It was this time last year a family heard the news that no parent wants to hear, that their child had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.”
In fact, it was on March 7 of last year that Olivia was diagnosed with a fast-growing form of cancer called medulloblastoma located towards the back and bottom of her brain in the cerebellum. Her first surgery was the next day and she’s been in and out of hospitals with chemo, radiation, and other treatments ever since. She spent a lot of time at Valley Regional Hospital including most of the month of December.
“Olivia, at only 12 years old, was facing a challenge no child should have to face,” said Oliver. “We first heard about Olivia through a benefit that was held here in our fire hall. Olivia’s strength and lots of support from all directions helped her through. It’s my pleasure to report to you that three weeks ago she rang the bell to announce she is cancer free.”
Dave McCoubery, president of the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation was also on hand and sat and talked with Olivia before the presentation and was on stage with Olivia and firefighters to accept the donation that will go towards something special at the maternity and children’s ward of the hospital.
Oliver said firefighters had been working on an in-house fundraiser since last fall because they wanted to pay it forward.
“So on your behalf, the Annapolis Royal Volunteer Fire Department is making a donation to the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation in the amount of $500, which will be used towards purchasing a tablet and Netflix subscription for children who are admitted into hospital to make their stay a little easier.”
“The Valley Regional Hospital Foundation is most pleased to accept the generous gift from the Annapolis Royal Fire Department,” said McCoubrey. “Suggestion being purchase of an iPad or something like that and maybe a Netflix subscription to help people who are there for long terms, going in for chemo therapy, blood therapy, whatever. It helps to distract people, so we’re most pleased to accept this gift from the fire department for that purpose.”
“The Kentville pediatrics unit is quite small, so you kind of have to bring your own fun,” said mom Laura Whitfield. “We learned pretty early on that you’ve got to bring things to keep you busy, or your electronics, devises, Netflix, things like that. The staff at Kentville, at Valley Regional, are great, don’t get me wrong. It’s not a large pediatrics section like the IWK where the whole building is set up for kids to ease their suffering, and ease their boredom, and just help them get through whatever they’re getting through.”
Whitfield and sister Tammy Tupper thought it would be nice for the fire department to donate the $500 to the Valley Regional pediatrics unit for all they did for Olivia.
“I just played on my phone. There wasn’t a lot to do. I just kind of sat there in bed,” said Olivia of her December stay.
“Lucky it was Christmas,” said Whitfield. “Her pediatrician said that the ‘elves’ had donated a tree, and that she was just delivering it for them. So she had a Christmas tree and she had presents. So we had that to keep us busy and looking forward to Christmas Day, opening all the presents.”
Go Online: Olivia's Fight Against Cancer