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Ambassador

SunriseWalks
June 8, 2014
Henry Kaufman Campgrounds
75 Colonial Springs Road
Wheatley Heights, NY 11798

 

At 32 weeks my amazing three daughters Gianna, Olivia and Sophia all came into this world a mere minute apart from one another all kicking and screaming in June of 2008. From that moment we knew, as well as the Doctors that they were truly something special. Although extremely small each one had a unique way about them and a sparkle in their eye. As each day passed and they began to grow older, each one developed their own distinctive personalities. They truly loved being together, and always found comfort in knowing the other was there, they became each others best friends very early on.

At around the age of 3, we began to notice a difference in our daughter Olivia that changed all our lives forever… Our once very happy, vibrant, playful daughter who was about to start preschool was now becoming sick frequently and not engaging much with her sisters. As parents we knew something just wasn't right and began our quest to find the answers. It took 2 long months of hospital stays, doctors & biopsies to finally find our answer. On August 4, 2011, the Doctors walked into the room after Olivia had her second bone marrow biopsy and delivered us the news we had been holding our breath to hear. Our daughter was diagnosed that day with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. In an instant our world was turned upside down and we were about to embark on an unknown journey. Olivia was trading in her little purple tutu’s for hospital gowns and baby dolls for hospital dolls with tubies sticking out of them.

Our amazing little girl was forced into a very strange and painful world filled with doctors, nurses, needle pokes, blood transfusions, biopsies, and lots of chemotherapy in an instant. In the first few weeks of Olivia starting treatment she lost her hair, had to have two surgeries for port placements, and wound up with a bad infection and was placed in an isolation room for 9 weeks all alone with nothing but a few toys, arts and crafts, a television, and us, her parents, at her side. She was angry, in pain, confused and most of all missing the two people who had always been around and her very best friends, her sisters. All throughout treatment we weren't together much as a family which was so hard on all of us.

Olivia’s treatment plan lasted 6 months and she was declared in remission in February of 2012. All our girls were so young when Olivia went through diagnosis and treatment that most of the memories are a distant one to them today. Since then we have moved to a new neighborhood, our girls are all excelling in the 3rd grade, and all are very active in gymnastics. One thing remains the same though and that is that Olivia is still under the care of her extraordinary doctors every 6 months. Since she is older now, she does have many questions and concern about what happened to her, she was also feeling a bit alone as none of her friends could understand what she had been through.

Olivia had expressed her feelings at one of her doctor appointments and that is when Sunrise Day Camp became introduced to us. Knowing we could never send only one of our girls to summer camp and once again separate them, we had some questions and reservations about the whole idea…Until we did some research and found out that Sunrise is for the patient and siblings. In our hearts at that moment we knew that Sunrise Day Camp would be the right place for us. We sent our girls on the first day of camp in the summer of 2015. Sunrise came into all of their lives at the perfect time. It helped Olivia to feel less alone, and become more vocal about her journey with cancer and since she has been able to be an inspiration to others. Gianna and Sophia go to camp everyday with their sister and no one feels left out, their counselors, friends and all the staff truly make everyone there feel extremely special and unique! My girls love waking up early each morning in the summer to go to camp and they sing songs from sunrise to sunset. They can’t wait until the next day to find out what awaits them on the campgrounds. Our girls are looking forward to spending many more summers at Sunrise Day Camp and they are all honored to be this year's SunriseWALKS National Ambassadors.