As one of their own fights a life and death battle, Westwood Elementary School students are joining Team Olivia.
Second-grader Olivia Smith was diagnosed with leukemia in November and is now undergoing the most difficult phases of her treatment.
Team Olivia T-shirts emblazoned with a Siberian husky — the seven-year-old’s favorite animal — are on sale at Westwood to raise funds for her mounting medical bills.
The second-grader helped design the shirts and chose to make the husky orange, which is the color used for ribbons in national leukemia awareness campaigns.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” said her mother, Heather Smith. “Olivia had been doing fairly well up until recently. The treatment is definitely getting harder for her, so she’s been getting more sick. Other than that she’s been doing OK, but this has been really hard.”
To make matters worse, Olivia was was admitted to the hospital recently because she had a severe allergic reaction to one of her chemotherapy treatments.
Symptoms such as extreme back pain started manifesting in mid-August and Olivia was diagnosed on Nov. 10.
“It got to the point where she couldn’t even put her shoes on,” Heather said. “That’s when I took her to the doctor and they discovered five fractures in her back. She hadn’t had any accidents to have those fractures, so further investigation showed the leukemia. Her bones were basically in pre-osteoporosis condition. It has healed up nicely since then.”
Aside from days that she is undergoing chemo therapy and an occasional few for recovery, Olivia has still been able to regularly attend class at Westwood.
“She’s probably going to miss a lot of school during this part of her treatment,” said her mother. “It lowers her blood cell counts and she’s more than likely going to be hospitalized.”
“We couldn’t be more thankful for the staff at Westwood,” she said. “They’ve been so helpful and supportive, just a wonderful group of people.”
T-shirts are bring printed and distributed by Jolly Roger Entertainment, a local fundraising company run by Wellington firefighter Derick Oswald and assistant fire chief Bill Brown.
The same group manufactured shirts in benefit of Morgan Lehmkuhl, a McCormick Middle School seventh-grader fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
If you’d like to buy a shirt, contact Theresa Oswald at 440-476-1176 or visit the company’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jollyrogerentertainmentfundraising.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.